The Foundation


Forever Bear Logo
 

Purpose

In honor of Elizabeth Camille Sanford, the Forever Bear Foundation provides Build-A-Bear Workshop® stuffed bears with a custom t-shirt to children who have lost a baby brother or sister at birth. The bears are donated to American Fork Hospital in American Fork, Utah.

Build-A-Bear Workshop® has agreed to provide the bears with the custom printed t-shirts at a significant discount. Donations to the foundation help purchase the bears and t-shirts.


Milestones

  • 2006

    Donated the first 50 Forever Bears bears to American Fork Hospital. Story of donation highlighted on KUTV and ABC4 News

  • 2012

    350 total bears donated

  • 2013

    165 bears donated (surpassing the year's goal of 100 bears), bringing total bears donated to American Fork Hospital to 565

  • 2014

    Jared Casper earned money for his Eagle Scout project to donate 75 bears

  • 2017

    199 bears were donated. 150 went to American Fork Hospital, 38 went to Orem Community Hospital and 11 went to friends and family who have lost a child. 950 bears have been donated to American Fork Hospital since 2006.

History

The Forever Bear Foundation began with its initial donation to American Fork Hospital on November 28, 2006 on what would have been Elizabeth's 10th birthday. Elizabeth is the daughter of Brett and Shannon Sanford and died unexpectedly during an emergency delivery at birth.

Brett and Shannon's oldest son, Andrew, was almost four years-old when Elizabeth passed away. It was a difficult time for Andrew, but the comfort of a stuffed bear helped him through the grieving process. With that in mind, the Sanfords decided to provide stuffed bears to their local hospital to be given to children whose baby brother or sister had passed away at birth, hoping the bear would be a source of comfort and peace.

Since 2006, the Forever Bear Foundation has donated more than 640 Build-A-Bear Workshop® bears to American Fork Hospital, with additional donations made to friends and family who have lost a child.


Hospital Feedback

American Fork Hospital
American Fork, Utah

Jason Yokota, a grief counselor and social worker at American Fork Hospital, shared the following about the donated bears:

"When the bears are presented to the parents to give to the children...many times the gratitude of the mother and father who receive the bear is not shown in words, but through tears. Other times, this gratitude has been manifested in a pay-it-forward attitude, as families who have received a Forever Bear graciously give items or contributions back to the hospital so future parents and children who experience a fetal demise can likewise receive comfort and strength in their loss.

"I have watched children cling to these bears, carrying them in and out of the hospital, or wherever they go - a sign of the benefit of this program. These bears have undoubtedly absorbed many tears and received many hugs from these children who are mourning the loss of a sibling. I have witnessed this mourning process these families face. I am sure the bears continue to bring comfort and consolation in the weeks and months ahead for these families."

Portneuf Medical Center
Pocatello, Idaho

When PMC received its first donation, Todd Blackinton (PR and Marketing director at the medical center) stated,

"It was something we'd never heard of and so when they called us and told us what they did, I mean it's kind of one of those things where you immediately start to just get chills because it's so thoughtful and it's something that we hadn't thought of and so thrilled to receive this kind of donation and you know hopefully these bears last us a long time."

Watch the full news story here.

American Fork Hospital - December 2010

Building first batch of bears - November 2006