UTD Athletics partnered with Jamie’s Heart foundation Nov. 8 to host the second annual teddy bear toss during UTD’s first men’s basketball game. The goal of the event was to provide emotional support to children currently in the ICU through stuffed animals, and in the first time-out of the game, Comets threw over 100 stuffed animals onto the court to donate to children with heart defects.
The Comets played their first game of the season against district rivals The University of Dallas, losing 76 to 86. During time-out, over 100 stuffed animals from the court were donated to the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas in an effort to bring awareness to Jamie’s Heart Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to children with congenital heart diseases. Tim Hannah and Corina Cross founded the organization in 2007 to honor the legacy of their daughter Jamie, who passed away at the age of 2 from a congenital heart condition. She loved stuffed animals and had all but her favorite, a bunny, donated to hospitals.
“It was a really cool thing for us to be able to work with them and have them be on the bench,” men’s basketball coach Jared Flemming said. “It was a cool thing for our guys to be a part of.”
The UTD stands were packed with support from Comets, coordinated in part by marketing senior Megan Hannah’s communication with the foundation.
“I honestly think this was a better turnout than what I was expecting, so that was really great,” Hannah said. “It seemed like all of athletics really showed up: baseball, soccer, softball, different clubs on campus and things like that.”
Eight-year-old Brantly McBride was the event’s guest of honor. Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Jamie’s Heart Foundation funded McBride’s trip to Great Wolf Lodge after his heart transplant. According to Hannah, Jamie’s Heart Foundation focuses on providing emotional and financial support for families throughout their journey.
“We’re there for families in times of crisis and need,” Hannah said. “But we also want to be there to celebrate the wins, because we understand that they may be far and few between.”
Jamie’s Heart Foundation was founded over 16 years ago in Washington and has recently expanded to the DFW area. According to Hannah, Jamie’s Heart Foundation, named in honor of her sister Jamie Noel Hannah, hopes to make this partnership a recurring event, as well as see how the Foundation can be further incorporated into UTD athletics.
“It’s just making people aware that heart defects are underfunded, and people lack awareness of it,” Hannah said. “So doing something like this is huge to hit people in the heart a little bit and make them aware.”
The stuffed animals were donated to the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas later that night to provide emotional support to children in the ICU. Jamie’s Heart Foundation also hosts an embroidery program, a way to gift kids with their own personalized stuffed animal.
“We know it seems so small, but it really does make a huge impact, and it made an impact on my sister,” Hannah said. “It provided her with so much comfort, in every picture you look at, she has at least one stuffed animal next to her.”