Cheer squads from Perry Meridian and Southport teamed for their first combined Teddy Bear Toss Thursday night. Fans from the schools tossed teddy bears on the court at halftime of the boys basketball game at Southport Fieldhouse.
“The Teddy Bear Toss was started by my cheer team mom, Nicky Givens,” Southport cheerleading coach Ali DeHart said. “She suggested we do it last year. I thought it was a great idea, so I got the ball rolling. We decided to include Perry this year, which I think worked really well.
Once the stuffed animals were tossed on the court, the cheer teams collected them to be counted (219) and donated to battered women’s shelters and police and fire stations.
“I would love for it to become an annual tradition” DeHart said. “I would like to see it become a bigger event so we can increase the amount of bears we donate each year.”
“I hope my girls can learn that it’s important to give back. We are donating the bears as a team, which is something we didn’t do as a team last year. I think it will be great for them to see where the teddy bears are going. We have been talking about the situation that a police officer or firefighter might need a teddy bear, and I think it’s good to open their eyes to that.”
It is becoming a common practice for officers to give teddy bears to children who are involved in traumatic accidents. Stuffed animals act as coping mechanisms to help comfort children.
The tosses are becoming popular as schools like Franklin Central conduct similar events.