Howard Rickspoone​

​My story of volunteering began after my youngest son, age 10, required brain surgery at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. The surgery was a success and he has led a very normal, healthy life, being a husband and a father himself today.

 

It was because of that period of my life that I knew that I had to give back to other families and their children, so I started volunteering on Saturday mornings at Children's Hospital in Chicago. I dressed up as a clown and worked with the navy on the oncology unit in order to bring smiles and some moments of happiness.

 

Five years later, I moved to Boulder Colorado and continued my work on the oncology unit at Children's Hospital of Denver.

 

After a period of time I was able to observe that families brought their children to this great institution to be cured of cancer, but many came without any stuffed animals or a favorite blanket for that child to hold onto. I knew that any parent who ever had a child in a hospital overnight can tell what a difference it makes for that child to have and hold that teddy bear and blanket in their arms.

 

I have observed children snuggled up in their beds with the teddy bear close to their hearts and their blanket placed softly over them to keep them warm. I know that these gifts bring a ray of sunshine into their lives at a time when they need the sunshine the most.

 

I have seen tiny infants swaddled with their soft blankets, and have seen teenagers, even 20 year olds want to keep their teddy bear close by their side through the night. I have observed a child in pain and, when that teddy bear was placed in their arms, somehow the pain went away.

 

Yes, the Bears and Blankets program has served to fill a great need, and it is my hope and desire to keep those children feeling a little more emotionally secure by continuing this great program. Bear Hugs to all of the volunteers and to our great committee.

Our Committee Members

Dani Diercks Farrell

As a graduate of Denver University's Law School and Masters of Social Work, Child Advocacy, I continue to work on my passion for youth and children's rights through domestic and international work. I am the owner of Diercks Law, P.C., which primarily focuses on juvenile law and reform. In addition, I am on the board of Optimus Youth that serves international children's causes. I am so proud to be a part of the Bears and Blankets fund to bring a smile to the faces of many deserving youth at Children's Hospital.

Pat Ervick

I have been part of Bears and Blankets since 2012. I am grateful be part of such an amazing group of individuals who donate their time and efforts to support Children’s Hospital Oncology Unit, Denver Health Newborns in Need Program, and Memory Care centers along the front range.  My work has been more specific with the Newborns In Need Program.  Each year, there are 3500 babies born at Denver Health.  My team works with students from Evergreen High School to provide volunteers for packing “Warm Welcome” bags and to raise monies to purchase bears and books for expecting families who are struggling.  Bringing a smile to a family or child fills my heart. When you aim to find a purpose, then your life becomes worthwhile.

Mary Ann Lane

I have been on the Bears and Blankets committee since 2007, and the reason I'm involved with this cause is because I have always loved children. In high school, I was a candy stripe volunteer for the Recreational Therapy Division of Children's Hospital in Cincinnati, and to this day feel it was the best job of my life. Knowing that we are providing even a small bit of comfort to the children in the oncology unit gives me hope for their recovery.

Cindy Wieleba

Throughout my lifetime, I have worked on charities, been involved with foundations, and sat on several boards. But nothing has touched my heart and soul more than working with children ~ specifically and absolutely the children who spend great amounts of their precious lives in oncology at Children's Hospital Colorado. It is with great pride and honor that I serve on the Bears & Blankets committee and can be a part of bringing joy and love to the children on the seventh floor!

Melly Kinnard

I have been involved with Newborns in Need at Denver Health for ten years. I am thrilled with Bears and Blankets and the astounding amount of money they raise for us. The Bears and Blankets team is made up of dynamite, creative people who really make it happen for the most vulnerable members of our society.

Vickie Ensing

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Jan Hart

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Teri Holtz

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Diane Johnston

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Chelle Maestas​

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Jessica Mazula​

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Sarah Nierode

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Camilla O'Keefe

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Sue Rilling

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Christine Troeger

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Ellen Armer

Being a mother (and now, Grandmother!), I've always wished that all children could have all the advantages that mine have had: love, health, good education and fun! To that end, I taught at my children's preschool, and was very involved with their schools' PTAs as they grew up. I also worked for the Children's Museum in Cleveland for several years.Having relocated to Colorado, I was thrilled to be invited to work with Bears and Blankets, where I am once again able to take a small part in improving the lives of children. Providing such "warm and fuzzy" gifts to these kids is a wonderful feeling!

Gloria Diercks

My heart has always gone out to what I view are the most vulnerable segments of society; sick children and the elderly. Therefore,I took the opportunity when serving in the Community Service position on the Board of Directors for NEWH (Network of Executive Women in Hospitality) to co-found, along with Howard Rickspoone, the Bears and Blankets Fund. It is totally out of gratitude that I have continued this work for the past eight years. I have been blessed with healthy children. I want to be an inspiration for sick children to "Believe" they can get well and lead a healthy and productive life.

Diane Badger

I have always felt a strong connection to children in need. My family was touched by tragedy when my daughter had a brain injury at 3 years old. The extraordinary help and support we received from family, friends and the staff at the hospital was our saving grace. My daughter had a miraculous recovery and we are forever grateful! Not all people have this support network. I think it is important to help someone in need as life is so precious. I have always enjoyed volunteering with students in our community while my kids were growing up. Now that my children are grown, the Bears and Blankets Organization has given me the opportunity to connect with students and encourage them to give back to the greater community through the Newborns in Need Program at Denver Health. I hope that my desire to serve others will encourage these young people to keep paying it forward.

Dianne Williams

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Jessica Mazula

As a social worker, I have dedicated more than 10 years to helping, protecting and advocating for our most vulnerable populations. Bears & Blankets touches a special place in my heart because it allows us to provide even more than what protecting and advocating can do. Bears & Blankets gives hope and lends comfort to the children and elderly populations in our community, and I am so grateful to be part of this committee. 

Susan Rilling

As a former educator of at risk youth, I have always been dedicated to nurturing children.  As a witness to loved ones who have both survived and been taken by cancer, I have a passion to bring comfort to the ailing.  Joining Bears and Blankets gives me the opportunity to do both!  I am excited to be a newcomer to such an important organization; when a dear friend asked me if I would like to join the committee I couldn’t refuse.  Teddy bears and blankets are comforting and it brings me joy to think I can bring emotional strength to sick children.

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