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Our Committee Members

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.


Gloria Diercks

My heart has always gone out to the most vulnerable of our society: sick children, the elderly, those struggling financially to take care of their children and those who support our troops who serve selflessly.  Therefore, I took the opportunity when serving in the Community Service position on the Board of Directors in 2003 for NEWH (Network of Executive Women in Hospitality) to co-found, along with Howard Rickspoone, the Bears and Blankets organization.


We have placed thousands of Bears and Blankets in the grateful arms of the vulnerable in the past 20 years.


I feel a special attachment to our Faith Bear of which I personally direct activities.  I founded this Bear in memory of my Mother and for those struggling with Alzheimers.

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!

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.

Pat Ervick

I've been a part of Bears and Blankets since 2012, and it's been a truly rewarding journey. I feel immensely grateful to be part of this amazing group of individuals who selflessly donate their time and efforts to support a variety of causes. Our efforts have been directed towards some remarkable programs like Children’s Hospital Oncology Unit, Denver Health Newborns in Need Program, Memory Care Centers along the Front Range, and Courage Bear for children of deployed Army soldiers.

My personal focus within this group has been on the Newborns in Need Program at Denver Health. Each year, this hospital witnesses the birth of 3,500+ babies. It's both heartwarming and humbling to be part of a team that volunteers at Denver Health to pack those "Warm Welcome" bags for expecting families who are going through challenging times. Packing the bags truly fills my heart with happiness.


This experience has taught me that when you aim to find a purpose in your actions, no matter how big or small, your life becomes incredibly worthwhile. The feeling of making a positive impact on someone's life, especially during a vulnerable moment, is an incredible source of fulfillment. I look forward to continuing this meaningful journey.


Dani Diercks Farrell

Advocating and empowering a child's voice is the basis of all of my work. At Diercks Law, we work as child advocate attorneys and social workers to represent the best interest of youth in the system. I am grateful to also put my efforts into Bears & Blankets that brings smiles and care to children and those in need on a regular basis. 

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Camilla O'Keefe

I've always had a passion to volunteer and give back to the community. 


My mother-in-law, Adde O'Keefe passed away from Alzheimer's a few years ago. It was my desire to remember her by making fidget quilts for those afflicted by this disease. I was honored when Gloria Diercks asked if I would be interested in putting my sewing machine to good use.

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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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Christine Troeger

I’ve always loved children, and advocating for them. What a gift they are! In High School and College, I volunteered in assisting Autistic and Down Syndrome children. I then lived in Spain, and taught international students. When I had kids myself, I always volunteered each year at their schools. I also helped at Church in the nursery, and then teaching Sunday School. When my girls were older, I worked as a Teacher’s Aide. Now I’m a Mentor for a 6th grade girl at a place for troubled teens. Volunteering for Bears & Blankets has been/is an honor for me. I’m able to help children in all different capacities. What a blessing!

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!


Dianne Williams

I have been a part of Bears and Blankets for 20 years.  I have always enjoyed volunteering and organizing fundraisers for charities, foundations, schools and church boards.  I began supporting Bears and Blankets by  holding fundraisers at my restaurant, Annie’s Cafe.


Bears and Blankets is such a wonderful and warm organization to be involved with.  It is my pleasure to fundraise for Childrens Hospital Colorado’s Kids with Cancer, assemble warm welcome bags for Newborns in Need for Denver Health and distribute teddy bears to the Elderly with Alzheimers.


Joining our family of Bears is the Courage Bear who is given to children of deployed US Army soldiers and to the great Denver Veteran Homes.   I now serve as the Director of the Courage Bear fundraising and distribution.

Committee Members and Supporters

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