JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kuddle Bears Inc., a nonprofit organization in Jacksonville, comforts cancer patients undergoing treatment by giving them Kuddle Bears to squeeze and love.
Two-time cancer survivor and president of Kuddle Bears Pricella Andreason told News4Jax she has given away over 60,000 bears in northeast Florida and all over the world since 2000.
She visits hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices to give Kuddle Bears to those in need of comfort and cheer.
Selma Whittle, who is undergoing cancer treatment at the Hill Breast Center Building in San Marco, received a Kuddle Bear.
"When I first got the bear, I couldn’t stop cuddling it. It brought comfort to me," Whittle said. "I couldn’t believe that they thought about me as an individual, and not a group. It was a gift just for me."
Andreason said she got the idea when she received a teddy bear in January 1996 after having a mastectomy for breast cancer. Andreason said she wants to make men and women smile during this difficult time.
"It makes me feel good when they have a smile on their face," Andreason said. "Men like the bears as much as women do."
Andreason said she wrote the "Bear It All" poem that is attached to each bear.
The poem reads, "My name is Bear, and I'm here to help comfort you. If in the middle of the night or during the day, you are scared, pick me up and give me a hug. If you need to cry don't be afraid to cry on me, I'll dry. If you need to vent your anger on me, go ahead. If you want to tell me your deepest thoughts, remember I won't tell."
"I'd never wrote anything before and I never wrote anything again," Andreason said.
Andreason told News4Jax that students from First Coast Christian School put the tags on the bear so that every bear is special.
Breastcancer.org reports about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
Anyone who would like to donate to Kuddle Bears can find information at kuddle-bears.com. Andreason can be reached at 904-389-2475.