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Niagara IceDogs visit scores big on Children’s Health Unit

Posted Dec 6th, 2023

Niagara IceDog players, Chief MacCulloch and representatives from Victim Services Niagara standing in front of a Christmas tree holding teddy bears in the Children's Health Unit at Niagara Health

Niagara IceDogs players, along with Niagara Regional Police Service Chief  Bryan MacCulloch and Victim Services Niagara, delivered more than 100 teddy bears to patients in the Children's Health Unit.

In a heartwarming act of generosity, the Niagara community has once again proven that their kindness is simply un-bear-able.

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, players and coaches from the Niagara IceDogs took a break from the ice to deliver more than 100 teddy bears to patients in the Children’s Health Unit at our St. Catharines hospital.

Along with them was Niagara Regional Police Service Chief Bryan MacCulloch, Detective Sergeant Shawn Turcotte and Tarryn Anderson from Victim Services Niagara, who also took part in spreading joy and comfort to children in need of extra support this holiday season.

“Being in the hospital can be an incredibly stressful time for children and their families,” says Lindsay Zerebny, Certified Child Life Specialist. “Watching our patients’ faces when they receive a toy or teddy bear is a reminder that even in the midst of challenging circumstances, they still get to be a kid.”

For children like Cheyenne Michaud, receiving a teddy bear was nothing short of magical.

“It really helped to brighten her day,” says Brandi Michaud, whose been in the hospital with her daughter for almost a week. “It’s been stressful for her and myself. Today’s visit made it easier to be here.”

For young patients, having a cuddly companion while in hospital provides a sense of security, offering a small reminder that they are not alone in their journey.

IceDogs players and mascot Bones deliver toys to a patient in a hospital bed

Cheyenne Michaud receives a new special toy during a visit with the Niagara IceDogs. 

"Watching our patients’ faces when they receive a toy or teddy bear is a reminder that even in the midst of challenging circumstances, they still get to be a kid.”

The teddy bears were donated by fans at the Niagara IceDog’s annual Teddy Bear Toss game held on Nov. 18. This year saw over 3,000 toys collected, which will support several community organizations including Victim Services Niagara and Community Care.

“I have been fortunate to participate in this wonderful initiative for several years now,” says Chief MacCulloch. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in our community and bring smiles and joy to the Children’s Health Unit.”

Niagara IceDogs Captian Zak Lavoie expressed the team’s excitement to give back to the community.

"It’s a full-circle moment to witness the teddy bears being tossed onto the ice during our game, and now being able to share that same joy with children in need,” he says. “It’s a humbling experience to be able to bring comfort to these young heroes during challenging times.”

The generosity and support the Niagara IceDogs, Niagara Regional Police Service, Victim Services Niagara and members of the community always leaves a lasting impression on Niagara Health patients and their families.

"Our dedicated staff will ensure that each of these special toys finds their way into the hands of every patient who comes through our doors,” says Zerebny. “We are immensely grateful for all the support we receive from our community during this time of year and beyond.”

On behalf of Niagara Health, thank you to the Niagara IceDogs, Niagara Regional Police Service and Victims Services Niagara for being an integral part of our mission to provide the best possible care and support to our young patients and their families.

Niagara Health System