Number of Participants: 50
Hours Donated: 15
Value of Time Served: $6,338
Event Type: Health & Medicine
Sport: Boys Ice Hockey
School: Williamsville North High School
Date: February 16, 2023
Williamsville North High School
Hopkins Road, Buffalo
The federation hockey teams from Williamsville North and Williamsville East participated in the 2023 Teddy Bear Toss.
One “lead player” from each team had a larger role – collaborating with me, completing forms at school, organizing the players for in school bear sales, picking up the teddy bears and supplies from me and advertising efforts. My estimate is that over the month and a half leading up to the event they put in 10-15 hours. My role was to keep them on track but allow them to execute the needed steps so that they could learn about planning and holding a fundraising /awareness event on a fairly large scale! Players from both teams were then involved for 1-4 hours each selling bears at school over 3 days.
Each team has 25 players and they were all involved in at least one hour of bear sales, some more.
This was Williamsville North’s 6th Teddy Bear Toss! Each year since my son was a senior, we have held the Teddy Bear Toss. (of course skipping 2020). The “inspiration” in our first year came from one of the players whose mom died by suicide and he asked if we could raise money for Suicide Awareness and Prevention. He also asked if we could do that through a Teddy Bear Toss hockey game. We brainstormed and crafted the event. Our goal is to raise funds for Crisis Services to Support their Suicide Awareness and Prevention Programs and to also raise awareness among the players and the school community. Each year we have been able to improve our impact on both fronts!
I was able to meet with both teams after one of their practices to talk candidly about why we hold the event and why it’s important to be open to talking about mental health struggles, depression, anxiety and to check in with teammates and friends. The coaches also shared in this important conversation and identified themselves as trusted supports.
We sold 370 bears this year for $5 each – a record for us – selling out each day necessitating trips to the store each evening! We had an online donation link directly with Crisis Services which brought in $805. We also had support from several area businesses to offset the cost of the bears and to purchase awareness bands to hand out in school to any student who asked for one. They had a message of hope snd the 24/7 hotline number on them. This support exceeded our expenses and the generous balance was gifted to Crisis Services.
Additionally on the night of the game, we had a tabling event with a representative from Crisis Services with many giveaways and informational handouts. She have an inspirational and informational welcome during a pregame ceremony. Each year Tyler and his dad come back and attend the event and this year Tyler’s dad spoke as well. We are very proud of the effort of both teams, coaches and the community for making it such a huge success!
(information provided by Amy Surowiec, Coordinator of Community Service and Charitable Events)