LUBBOCK, Texas - Lubbock hospitals received a special delivery from a girl who gives bears to children fighting serious illnesses, all in hopes of easing their fears.
"Katie's Bears" is a wish come true for a Georgia teenager who wanted to help kids just like her.
She got some inspiration for a wish after meeting a friend in a similar situation.
"So I chose my wish because I actually made a friend in the infusion clinic. She was scared of getting her port accessed and de-accessed," said Katie Smotherman, Wish Kid. "So I created a little bear for her to play with, and kind of eased her fears. I wanted to make them better so I made 10 more."
In the beginning she made them herself, by hand.
"They have a large port doll at the clinic, but it has needles so they have to do it with a nurse or child life specialist. They obviously couldn't bring it home, so I wanted to create something she could take home and always play with to make her feel better," said Katie.
So when it was time to have her wish granted, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
"I asked Make-A-Wish to make more, and I wanted to be able to hand them out to children. Well, I really wanted to get more of them out there because Marianna's mom was telling me how much it helped ease her fears. So I wanted to make more for more children. So I asked for 40 to go to the local hospitals," said Katie.
Make-A-Wish Georgia used that idea and went even bigger.
2,400 bears shipped across the nation, and Katie's bears made it all the way to Lubbock. Kids staying at Covenant Children's and University Medical Center now have a friend just like them.
Nurses at Covenant Children's say these bears will really help ease some anxious patients.
Her selfless wish is making a big impact here on the South Plains.
"I knew personally how it affected these children, and I wanted to help in a big way. I didn't need a trip and I thought it would be really cool to help other kids," said Katie.
It was a community effort in Georgia getting the bears ready to ship out.
"It's unbelievable. It's one of the best feelings you could ever have. We went to the hospital with Katie, and she gave out bears and made connection with kids. When the wish was revealed, we were in the property that had 1,800 bears. The Lubbock bears were in that building with us. We loaded them up in the UPS truck, hopefully they got as many as they could use." said Charles Smotherman.
Katie did everything from picking out the prototype, coming up with a logo and making sure they were soft and cute.
"I know how it is to be in that position, child or teen with cancer or just any serious illness. It's important to give those kids something to look forward to because it's hard for kids because they don't really understand." said Katie.
For Katie and her family, the Make-A-Wish Georgia will always hold a special place in their hearts.
"Just the excitement and thrill for these kids. Just a bright spot for these kids in their life during a difficult time means the world to us to support an organization than can help do this." said Sharon Smotherman, Katie's mom.
If you'd like to get involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, just give them a call at 806-785-9474.
Make-A-Wish Georgia website: http://georgia.wish.org/
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