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Student Entrepreneurs Launch “Hope Heals” Campaign to Uplift Hospitalized Children

Student Entrepreneurs Launch “Hope Heals” Campaign to Uplift Hospitalized Children

Giant inflatable teddy bears are making surprise appearances in parks, city centers, and shopping areas across Northeast Ohio. The traveling installation, which aims to brighten the day of critically ill children, is the creative vision of students from 10 local high schools participating in the Excel TECC Marketing/Junior Achievement program at Beachwood High School. 

The students were inspired by the story of Ella Casano, a high school senior from Connecticut who has a rare blood disorder. Ella created a nonprofit called Medi Teddy after undergoing frequent IV infusions as a child. The Medi Teddy is a teddy bear sleeve that covers an IV bag to help reduce children’s fear during medical treatments. It conceals blood and medication from view but allows doctors and nurses to monitor the treatment.

Determined to make a difference, the Marketing Junior Achievement students launched Hope Heals, a campaign aimed at supplying every pediatric hospital in Northeast Ohio with Medi Teddy IV covers. They are raising funds by selling sponsorship packages and teddy bear-themed merchandise, all while managing the campaign’s budget, organizing events, and promoting their cause.

“Hope Heals is about making a difference in the lives of ill children, while bringing joy and unity to all those in the community,” says Ozan Sasmaz, a senior at Beachwood High School. 

The campaign has already seen significant success. Students raised over $170,000 – enough to purchase 1,600 Medi Teddys for hospitals including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Metro Health, and Akron Children’s Hospital. Additional Medi Teddys will be distributed to critically ill children around the world. 

“Through Hope Heals, we create moments of happiness for children amid their challenges,” says Beachwood High School senior Camille Gill. “Our collective dedication in the program allows us as teens to channel our creativity into initiatives that uplift those in need.”

In developing the Hope Heals campaign, students collaborated with District Gallery in the Van Aken District to enlist world-renowned artist Geoffrey Gersten to design the campaign's mascot, Bluebeary, a blue teddy bear featured on all branding and merchandise. A giant, 20-foot version of Bluebeary is on display as part of the Hope Heals traveling installation. 

Bluebeary, along with four other inflatable teddy bear companions, will make stops at several locations this spring:

  • March 29 - April 8: Pinecrest, Orange Village
  • April 12 - 22: Legacy Village, Lyndhurst 
  • April 26 - May 6: Crocker Park, Westlake
  • May 25 - June 3: Van Aken District, Shaker Heights

The Hope Heals campaign concludes with a dedication ceremony on May 29 at District Gallery. Students will present the Medi Teddy IV covers to each pediatric hospital and recognize top sponsors with original oil paintings and signed prints by Geoffrey Gersten. 

Greg Perry, the Marketing/Junior Achievement teacher, commented on the campaign’s impact "The power of hope is immense,” he said. “It not only aids children in need but also empowers our students with invaluable life skills."

For students in the Marketing/Junior Achievement program, organizing Hope Heals has been a rewarding way to give back while learning practical business and management skills. “Hope Heals has opened up my world to many new horizons,” said Beachwood High School senior Dakota Houston, who serves as the Hope Heals vice president of marketing. “I have made many professional connections and generated many new ideas. I truly believe that the Beachwood Marketing/Junior Achievement program is amazing.” 

So agreed Allie Berns. She said, “I am extremely proud to be part of Hope Heals while making a difference for children of all ages.” 

To learn more about Hope Heals, please visit: 

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