'Warm a Heart': UCF Nursing Students Deliver Cuddly Bears to Sick Children

‘Warm a Heart’: UCF Nursing Students Deliver Cuddly Bears to Sick Children

Karina Bermudez, 12, receives her Knight Nurse bear from UCF nursing students at Nemours Children's Hospital.

Children spending the Valentine’s Day week at Nemours Children’s Hospital got a special treat on Monday: Seven UCF College of Nursing students, dressed in their scrubs, visited their hospital rooms and brought along a new soft, cuddly bear.

In all, 88 ‘Knight Nurse’ teddy bears — also wearing UCF scrubs —  arrived at Nemours as part of a larger fundraising campaign spearheaded by the college, and meant to brighten the day of hospitalized children.

To see a video of one the deliveries, click here.

Soon-to-be 13-year-old Karina Bermudez, who has a closet of strategically-placed stuffed animals at her Melbourne home, eagerly awaited her bear delivery before her chemotherapy treatment. When the nursing students arrived, the group immediately started discussing how to accessorize the bear in her favorite color, purple.

“It’s super, super soft. It’s the softest bear I think I have. It feels kind of like my unicorn,” Bermudez said. “Everyone is so nice here. Everyone’s just trying to make all the kids here feel better.”

In January, the college debuted its “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser asking the public to sponsor one – or an entire unit – of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs. The college partnered with MorUniversity, the college’s exclusive scrub provider, to create limited-edition bears outfitted in an exact replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students.

Donations were still coming in as of late last week, but the college estimated it raised about $14,000 in the inaugural campaign. All money will help support priority areas in the UCF College of Nursing, including student scholarships, faculty research and medical mission trips.

Later this week, students will deliver more bears to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Florida Hospital for Children. In total, about 225 bears will be delivered this year.

“I just love working with the kids. They have this incredible spirit, so any opportunity that I get to interact with them and to make them smile is just what makes it so special for me,” said Orlando native Hayley Boyle, who is in her last semester of UCF’s undergraduate nursing program and hopes to become a pediatric nurse. “These bears have such an impact. They’re just a beautiful thing to do.”