Teri and Brock have been married for 15 years and have two children, eleven-year-old Jack and six-year-old Oliver. The family considers themselves fortunate in many ways. They enjoy traveling, all things outdoors and are dedicated Star Wars fans. But Teri and Brock are no strangers to hardship. Four years ago, Teri was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, completely changing their family’s day-to-day life.
“At the time, I had to start chemo quickly and I became sick not long after. I had to stop breastfeeding Oliver and during our time together as a family I only had the energy to lie in bed or sit on the couch. We were a very active family and all that stopped. No more parks, outings, or being active with my kids. My husband and his mother took over school drop-offs and pick-ups. The sight of food even made me sick, so my husband became the primary cook,” Terri said.
A life living with cancer, had become the reality, but what kept Teri’s family going was the drive to make a positive difference in the lives of others and impart the importance of helping people onto Jack and Oliver.
“My husband and I enjoy giving to charities that have a personal connection and we wanted to start something that our son could take part in,” Teri added. That’s when Teri and Brock decided to create a Build-A-Bear drive.
The Healing Process
Build-A-Bear offers children and families the opportunity to create personalized stuffed animals right in their stores. At the Build-A-Bear drive, Teri, Brock and their boys act as hosts while friends, family and even strangers offer to create and donate bears.
In the third year of the Build-A-Bear drive, Teri and her family decided to focus on helping others facing cancer.
“I was really sick for a couple of years but in the process, we never missed a Build-A-Bear drive. We wanted to do something with a cancer organization, and the Chemo Pal Mentor Program at the Children’s Cancer Association was the perfect match. It ended up being and still continues to be, an incredible healing opportunity for us all.
The drive gave us a sense of control in the face of a disease that makes you feel powerless and we could do it together as a family. It also helped my kids to understand that there are other families facing cancer and with so many people that helped us, we could pay it forward,” Teri recalled.
A Goal Worth Achieving
Now in its sixth year, Jack has begun to take an active and passionate role in the drive. Each year they have a goal to collect more bears than the year before.
“Jack was only five when we started the charity drive and we knew that as he built his stuffed animal, he would have to think about the child he was making it for. As he’s gotten older, he takes part in designing the invitations, stuffing envelopes, making all the thank you gifts, and being an active host at the event. As Oliver gets older he has begun to help with these tasks as well.
The first year we had no idea how many people would show up and we were pleasantly surprised to receive 18 bears. As the years went on we got better at making flyers and putting ads in the school newsletter. This year we collected 69 Build-A-Bears! Our ultimate goal is 125, to cover all the kids matched with a Chemo Pal Mentor at this time,” Terri said.
Sharing in Joy
“Our hope is to bring joy to a child when there might not be much to go around. When we get pictures from kids who have received a bear, they have a great big smile on their face it just makes all the hard work worth it.
The people who come back year after year are so wonderful and giving. Every year they seem to give a little bit more and invite their friends. We even had strangers who were making a bear for themselves and they stopped to make one for us. It is truly amazing.”
How Can You Help?
At CCA, we’re incredibly grateful for Teri and her family, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Jack and Oliver in their charity endeavors.
If you are interested in being part of the Build-A-Bear drive, it’s held every December, at the Clackamas Town Center Build-A-Bear store. Stay tuned for more details on this fun event later in the year!
Prescribe joy today. Together we can make a difference in the lives of seriously ill children and teens.