Teddy Bear Toss at Grand Rapids High School Hockey Game Aims to Comfort Sick Children

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – East Grand Rapids and Catholic Central high schools meet in a varsity hockey game on Saturday that will also support a great cause.

The annual Teddy Bear Toss Game on Saturday, December 18 will help the Billy Bear Hug Foundation support and comfort children with serious illnesses in Western Michigan.

Local nonprofit distributes teddy bears and child and family care packages from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Bronson Children’s Hospital, Michigan Hospice, Gilda’s Club , the Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan, and other organizations in western Michigan, according to their website.

The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Patterson Ice Center, 2550 Patterson Ave SE. The cost to participate in the event will be $ 5 and $ 10 for a teddy bear, if you don’t bring one to throw, according to organizers.

The event centers around fans throwing new stuffed animals, mostly teddy bears, on the ice after the home team scores their first goal of the game.

“We hope to share some holiday cheer with them (the kids) while they are in the hospital and try to bring joy to them during such a difficult time,” said Foundation President Billy Bear Hug , Meg Simon, a senior at East Grand Rapids High. School.

Before the game, Simon and Luke Preston, vice president of the foundation and senior at Catholic Central High School, will help pick up the teddy bears to throw on the ice. Members of the foundation’s Youth Advisory Board will help gather them off the ice for distribution.

The foundation was established in memory of Charlie Wondergem’s brother Billy Wondergem, a Calvin College graduate who was considering becoming a pediatric oncologist. He died in 2010 at the age of 24.

Billy Wondergem graduated in 2004 from Catholic Central where he played on the hockey team, Preston said.

Simon and Preston, although rivals at school, are grateful for the outpouring of support from the community of Grand Rapids over the past 17 years.

She said the event was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ll be on the ice to be part of the men’s varsity team,” said Simon. “I think it’s great for me to see my two passions – hockey and being part of the Billy Bear Hug Foundation – coming together to have an impact on the community we live in.

It’s special for Luke and I, coming from two competitive schools, joining forces to help the children in our community who need it most.

To learn more about the foundation’s efforts and to donate, visit the website here:

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