By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Children at Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn and the Beaumont Center for Exceptional Families waited in excitement as their customized teddy bears were delivered to them.
The bear, Ben Flyin’, landed in Dearborn with his passport stamped from locations around the world via United Airlines.
Volunteers from the airline visited the hospital and center Oct. 14 as part of the fifth annual program.
The collaboration between the two started when United Airlines Event Organizer Namir Jaffer contacted Beaumont for a local partner.
“I have a local connection to the hospital because me and my brother were born here,” he said. “This was the perfect choice to give back to the community.”
Layla, a daughter of a United Airlines volunteer, helped distribute the bears to children and parents in the pediatric and NICU departments.
She pulled a wagon filled with more than 50 adventure bears and passports put together by the volunteers, hand delivering them to each room.
“I love seeing the looks on the kids’ faces,” Jaffer said. “If it takes away their pain and struggle for a little bit, it’s worth it.”
The group also visited the Center for Exceptional Families which offers child care, education and a wide range treatment for children with multiple special needs and their families.
As children received their treatment, volunteers entered rooms with the special stuffed teddy bear and stamped passport.
The annual passport features United States, China, Germany, Ireland and more locations for children to view, especially for those who haven’t been able to fly yet.
“This is a nice reward for working hard,” Beaumont Center for Exceptional Families Assistant Director Michelle O’Connor-Teklinski said. “Children and families come for treatment and are surprised with something fun.”
For more information on the program go to united.com.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])