KatieBears will continue to comfort others

EGANVILLE – Sometimes ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.
Ian and Lynda Fraser called out names of the lucky winners of gift baskets that Lynda put together thanks to many generous donors. Twelve gift baskets were put together and throughout the afternoon folks could purchase tickets to be eligible for each draw.
Staff Reporter
EGANVILLE – Sometimes ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.
Such was the case when Ian and Lynda Fraser first discovered a way to find healing after a tragic loss. Together they formed KatieBears, a group which helps bring comfort and joy to others by giving stuffed bears.
Three years ago, Ian and Lynda’s daughter Katie passed away from a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot between the heart and lungs, at the age of 22. While the Frasers dealt with their sudden grief, they wanted to find meaning and a way to honour Katie’s life.
The idea of passing along stuffed bears came from a sweet memory Ian and Lynda have of their first-born from four years ago. While on a Christmas parade float for their business, Katie randomly gave a stuffed animal to a child who was so excited about it. The Frasers thought to continue spreading joy in Katie’s memory.
Their priority up until recently has been to hand out teddy bears at Christmas parades in the valley. Ian says when you see the look on a child’s face, when you hand them a teddy bear, you’re instantly hooked.
Today KatieBears has grown into a not-for-profit organization with 50 volunteers which raise money through fundraising to purchase stuffed bears to distribute to children.
In addition to handing out teddy bears at Christmas parades, they also look for people needing comfort, for example people who have had tragic circumstances, such as loss of a child or spouse, and deliver bears to them.
“We’ve done a lot of visiting with other families that have lost children. We’ll show up and talk to them because that helped us a lot when we lost Katie, to talk to somebody that lived through it. You need somebody to tell you that you’re not the only one,” Lynda said.
Ian agreed saying at the time of their loss, there weren’t a lot of people who came forward to help them.
So the couple tries to make the effort by sending people experiencing loss a bear with a note offering a telephone chat. While some will call and others won’t, Ian said that they need to know that they can survive.
“This wouldn’t exist without that initiative and it was Katie’s passing that put that into motion, so it’s good,” Ian said.
He said they do fundraising throughout the year but the Eganville event was the biggest event they had ever done. While the Frasers currently live in Glasgow Station near Arnprior, they chose to hold the event in Eganville because it is where their three children grew up, including their two surviving sons.
While the afternoon fundraiser was originally to be held at the lights in Eganville, it was decided that the larger outside space next to the Eganville Community Centre would be better suited for set-up and crowds.
Story continues in the May 30 issue of The Valley Gazette.