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‘Un-bearably’ kind

NMU?athletes deliver teddy bears from Saturday event

Northern Michigan University swim and dive team member Katharina Springhetti prepares to put a teddy bear under the tree at the Mining Journal office in downtown Marquette. Several athletes from NMU men’s basketball and football teams were also on hand to deliver 623 teddy bears for the Mining Journal’s Cheer Club. The bears will be distributed to families in need. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — The Mining Journal office in Marquette was overrun on Monday — by teddy bears.

Several Northern Michigan University student athletes delivered the 623 cuddly toys collected during a socially distanced Teddy Bear Toss at the Berry Events Center on Saturday.

NMU Athletic Director Forrest Karr said the spirit of the event, which is a partnership between the NMU Student Athlete Advisory Committee, stayed the the same event though the way in which the bears were collected had to change.

“Basically the way we’ve done it, during a hockey intermission at a home game in early December, fans have had the opportunity to bring bears and throw them out on the ice and our student athletes have gone out and collected the bears and brought them over to the Cheer Club,” Karr said. unfortunately our home series this past weekend against Bemidji State University had to be canceled due to COVID testing. And we were concerned about not being able to have that opportunity for fans that wanted to bring bears, so we just decided to adjust and try to be a little creative and flexible.”

So student athletes and Wildcat coaches were on hand Saturday as residents drove by and tossed teddy bears into a makeshift rink in front of the Berry Event Center on NMU’s campus.

He said several elements were necessary to make the event a success.

“We are just really, really grateful that our local media organizations did a great job of getting the word out over the week leading up to the event,” Karr said. “We ended up with more bears than we’ve every had before. And we are really thankful for the Cheer Club and for Jim Reeves for bringing up the idea and for our student athletes helping out.”

Katharina Springhetti, a member of the NMU swim and dive team, said even though the event was different this year, people still turned out to donate.

“It was nice to see that people still cared about this and took the time to drive by and drop off the teddy bears,” Springhetti said.

Basketball player Alec Fruin, who also participated in the event, echoed that sentiment.

“I think it just goes to show how strong the community is here,” Fruin said, “and how much they support NMU athletics.”

Deandre Caldwell, a member of the NMU football team, said he was impressed by all of the toys donated and how the donations will impact children who will receive the bears.

“It just shows how good people are in this community. This is my first year doing it, and the first 20 or 30 minutes we were out there the whole hockey rink we had was full,” Caldwell said. “The amount of teddy bears that we got is amazing. And all those teddy bears will go to some kids, who are going to have something for Christmas that they didn’t have. It is just a blessing, honestly, to see how much people care.”

The bears will be collected by representatives of the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul and distributed to families in need just in time for Christmas.

The Mining Journal Cheer Club has been collecting gifts since Nov. 27. Anyone who wishes to donate can drop gifts off at: The Mining Journal office in downtown Marquette; St. Vincent de Paul in Marquette; Range Bank locations in Marquette, Harvey and Negaunee; Salvation Army locations in Ishpeming and Marquette; and Ace Hardware in Gwinn.

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