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Touching Lives with Riley Hospital’s Bear in the Chair Program

speedway-bear-in-the-chairThe Bear in the Chair program at Riley Children’s Health is typically a program that benefits children in the hospital but recently the program helped comfort a grieving parent.

Bear in the Chair is an innovative program that uses stuffed bears to help child patients maintain a connection to their school while they’re in the hospital. A stuffed bear occupies the child’s school desk if they will be in the hospital for a week or more. Oftentimes the students and the bear will do video chats with the child so that he/she still feels like they are part of the class.

Recently, teachers in the Riley School program were involved in arranging the delivery of a child’s bear when that child unexpectedly passed away. Staff members contacted the patient’s mother shortly thereafter to offer to give her the bear to help with the grieving and healing process. The mother accepted the offer and requested the bear be delivered to the funeral. Two teachers, Stacy Willett and Peggy Green, graciously drove to the patient’s hometown to personally deliver the bear to the mother prior to the funeral. One of the staff members commented that the mother hugged the bear and kept it at her side during the funeral.

The Bear in the Chair program is funded by our friends at Speedway and has proven to have a far-reaching and powerful impact on patients and their families. Through the generosity of Speedway’s customers, more than $1.9 million has been raised to help fund this vital and touching program. Learn more at


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