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Motorcycles Bring Bears, Comfort

Twenty years ago, then 12-year-old Kathryn Zapach received a teddy bear as she prepared for surgery at what is now Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Her legs were growing at different rates, and surgery was recommended by then surgeon-in-chief Jay Nogi, MD.

“The operating room nurse told me how men on motorcycles bring teddy bears to the hospital annually for all the children who come to the hospital,” Kathryn recalled of how the stuffed bear provided a distraction before surgery and comfort during her recovery.

Organized by the Blue Knights VA III, the 35th annual Teddy Bear Run took place on Nov. 4 and featured more than 600 motorcycles delivering more than 1,000 teddy bears to CHoR’s Brook Road Campus. Riders were greeted by patients, families, staff and more than 300 Kappa Delta (KD) collegians and alumnae who were visiting the hospital for the annual Kappa Delta tour day. CHoR is one of Kappa Delta’s national philanthropies and has benefitted from more than $1.6 million in donations since the 1920s.

Kathryn said KD’s support of CHoR as well as orthopaedic research were two of the factors that influenced her decision to join the sorority during her collegiate days at the College of William & Mary.

“Not only had I been a patient at CHoR, I was treated by an orthopaedic surgeon,” Kathryn said, “so what the sorority valued and cared about directly aligned with my values and my own story.”

As a collegian, Kathryn attended the Teddy Bear Run, but last fall’s event was the first time she’d attended as an alumna.

“It was very powerful to see how many people showed up to support the patients they will probably never meet and may not have an idea how comforting a teddy bear can be for a kid,” said Kathryn, who serves as an advisor to the KD chapter at the University of Richmond. “I still have my teddy bear and to think it rode on a motorcycle with a man or woman who may have been at the Teddy Bear Run again this year really amazes me.”