Athletes stuff bears for Children’s Hospital

| Sports Reporter

Washington University student athletes found out that people are never too old to play with stuffed animals.

On Tuesday, about twenty athletes sacrificed a few hours of finals studying to go to the Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Galleria Mall, where they stuffed bears for the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The event was organized by the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC). . Build-A-Bear Workshop donated the 50 bears athletes created and an additional 50 bears that had already been stuffed.

According to the athletes present, SAAC’s mission is to foster a tighter athletic community within Wash. U by making events for athletes to participate within the university and out. Stacey Niese, a senior co-captain on the women’s basketball team and a member of SAAC, said that one of the most important aspects of SAAC is “promoting sport to sport cohesion”.

As part of the teddy bear drive, SAAC completed an inter-sport competition to see which athletic team could donate the most amount of stuffed animal bears. The softball team succeeded by a large margin, obtaining over 100 bears, and will be receiving some sort of “surprise”, according to sophomore Emma Brown, a member of SAAC and the women’s soccer team.

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(L-R) Freshmen Sondra Polonsky, Claire Downs, sophomore Corissa Santos and junior Claire Voris of the Washington University softball team rub hearts on their noses as they created bears for the St. Louis Children's Hospital. Athletes stuffed 50 bears on December 8 at the Build-A-Bear Workshop in the Galleria Mall. (Johann Qua Hiansen | Student Life)

Isaac Stein, a member of the men’s tennis team and the SAAC executive board, was the lone male athlete at the event. “One of the biggest goals of SAAC is to promote interaction between the teams, “ Stein said. “You know your teammates well enough, but one of the goals is to encourage interaction between sports.”

Even though Stein was the only male athlete at the event, Build-A-Bear employee and Fontbonne junior Jessi Rowan said that he “did well” with the heart ceremony, which boys sometimes have trouble with.

The heart ceremony includes rubbing the heart on your forehead so the bear is “super smart like you”,  putting it on your cheek “for lots of smiles” and kissing the heart to “seal in your wish” inside the bear. These hearts are then placed inside the bear before they are stuffed.

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(L-R) Sophomore Emma Brown, junior Julie Tembunkiart, freshman Emily Gosché and junior Katy Southworth of the Washington University women's soccer team rub hearts on their ears as they stuff bears bound for the St. Louis Children's Hospital. (Johann Qua Hiansen | Student Life)

The bear drive is a relatively new charity event, as it was just started two years ago. Junior Katy Southworth, who organized Tuesday’s event at Build-A-Bear and is a member of the women’s soccer team, appreciated the brief break from studying for finals. “It’s exciting to do something that’s not sports related with all of us athletes together,” Southworth said. “It’s fun to do it during exam week, cause then we have a de-stress moment that is helpful to everyone else, because all the bears are going to  [the] Children’s Hospital.”

Sophomore Liz Phillips, a member of the track and field and cross country teams, was able to take a break from studying to come down to the store.

“It’s really exciting, and it’s really great that Build-A-Bear has agreed to donate so many bears,” Phillips said. “[It's] a great opportunity for us to help out in the community and help the kids.”

Members from the women’s basketball, women’s tennis and softball teams were represented as well.  At one point during the stuffing, Santa Claus made an appearance making sure everyone there had been nice during the past year.

The drive opens up to the Wash. U. community this Saturday as Red Alert sponsors a half time shooting contest. Fans who bring any type of stuffed teddy bear to the men’s basketball game against No. 15 Augustana at 7 p.m. will be eligible to compete.  The No. 1 Wash. U. Men’s basketball team escaped with a 64-62 win over No. 8 Wheaton on Wednesday evening.