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Running with the bears; Bikers continue tradition

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:19 PM

The unmistakable sound of nearly 300 Harley-Davidson motorcycles filled the rehabilitation center parking lot Saturday at Fisher-Titus Medical Center for the Margo B. Welfle Memorial Teddy Bear Run.

More than 275 riders, each bearing one or more stuffed animals, rumbled into FTMC to donate their cuddly cargo to the hospital's pediatrics department. Thanks to good weather, this year brought more riders and teddy bears than any other.

The ride started at the Roeder Harley-Davidson store in Sandusky. From there, the motorcyclists rode to Firelands Regional Medical Center, where they dropped off their first load of stuffed animals. They continued to Fisher-Titus Medical Center, where the riders donated the rest of their bears, many of which wore the identifiable attire of a Harley rider. They finished the day with a chili cook-off at the Monroeville Roeder Harley-Davidson store.

The Teddy Bear Run was started by its namesake Margo Welfle, who organized the first run in 2000 to bring stuffed animals to children in the hospital. When she was killed in a motorcycle accident, her friends and family decided to continue the Teddy Bear Run in her honor, calling it the Margo B. Welfle Memorial Roeder Harley-Davidson Teddy Bear Run. Since then, more than 1,000 bears have been donated.

"It's so nice they continue it," said Deb Reed, FTMC's director of marketing and public relations. "It meant a lot to her."

The teddy bears have a variety of uses at FTMC. They may be given to a child who visits the emergency room or has a lab test. The majority of the bears are given out at FTMC's Pediatric Therapy's Christmas party, but FTMC always has some on hand to use whenever they're needed.

FTMC president Pat Martin greeted the riders as they filed in and donated their bears. He called the Teddy Bear Run a "perfect example of how unusual, diverse interests can align themselves."

"It's a true pleasure to have all of you continue this in her honor," he said.

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