Teddy Bear Tosses have become much-loved fixtures at hockey games around Christmas time, but many people probably don’t know that the tradition began with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League (WHL), who held the first Teddy Bear Toss during their 1993–94 season.
Since then the the tradition has spread to all 22 WHL teams and beyond, with fans throwing teddy bears and other stuffed animals onto the ice the first time their team scores a goal at a designated home game. In Kamloops, the stuffies are collected and donated to the Pediatric Department at Royal Inland Hospital, where they comfort hospitalized children.
With the Blazers’ season not scheduled to start until the New Year, it means there won’t be an opportunity for fans to toss teddies onto the ice during a game. Without the hundreds of stuffed animals fans bring every year, the stuffy inventory at the RIH Pediatric Department is running critically low, meaning young patients won’t have the comfort and security that they bring.
Due to the pandemic and proscribed safety measures, RIH cannot accept physical donations this year. However, between now and midnight on Dec. 15, cash donations are being accepted online at www.trellis.org/teddybeartoss2020. The donations will be used to purchase much-needed teddy bears and other comfort items for young patients at Royal Inland, and the RIH Foundation and the Kamloops Blazers are encouraging community members to help them reach their goal of raising $5,000 to restock the RIH stuffy cupboard, and bring joy to Kamloops and the surrounding area’s youngest patients.
“We are proud to have an opportunity to continue the tradition of the teddy bear toss that the Kamloops Blazers started, and has since been adopted worldwide,” says Kamloops Blazers President/COO Don Moores. “This is a tremendous opportunity to support the RIH Foundation and ensure that the tradition of the toss continues in a way that is safe for our community.”