Operation Teddy Bear

It’s an iconic scene. Friends and family, gathered around the birthday boy or girl, singing happy birthday wishes while the little guest of honor hovers above the candles on their cake with their eyes squeezed tightly shut as they conjure up the most perfect birthday wish possible. The chorus of “Happy Birthday” comes to an end, everyone holds their breath as the candles are enthusiastically blown out and that wish is sent into the universe, hopefully finding its way to come true.

For Daniel Velasquez, that birthday wish has been the same each year for the last seven years. When Daniel was very young, he and his mother were in a harrowing car accident. Being in a car accident is scary enough as an adult, when you’re a child the trauma of the accident combined with the frenzy of activity with emergency responders can be absolutely overwhelming. Luckily for Daniel, Parker Police Officer Casey Cashman, who was one of the first on the scene of the accident he and his mother were involved in, gave Daniel a stuffed teddy bear to comfort him in the wake of that trauma. When Daniel learned that his bear was the last stuffed animal the Police Department had to give out to children in similar situations, he was inspired to pay it forward.

Every year since the accident, in lieu of receiving gifts for himself, Daniel has asked family and friends to bring new stuffed animals that Daniel can then donate to the Parker Police Department. Last year, Daniel received overwhelming support from the community in his mission to collect 400 bears. He crushed that goal, receiving over 1,320 stuffed animals from individuals, businesses, a fourth grade class, and a baseball team! He was able to not only bring donations to the Parker Police, but also to the Adams County Sheriff’s Department for Operation Freebird, Elbert County Sheriff’s Office, Sheridan Police Department, and the Aurora Police Department, who launched a new teddy bear program with Daniel’s donations.

This year, stuffed animals will be given to these same police departments. If you, your business, your class or scout troop would like to help Daniel with Operation Teddy Bear, you can bring your donation of new and unused stuffed animals to local businesses (Fika Coffee House, Search Parker Magazine or Rauch Motors) here in Parker throughout the month of March.
You can also contact DanielsBears@gmail.com to make an in-kind monetary donation towards the purchase of stuffed animals and follow Operation Teddy Bear on Facebook for updates.

We should all follow Daniel’s advice to kids who want to make a positive impact in their own communities, “Stick to it and do not give up. It’s a lot of work, but worth it because you know it’s helping other people.”

Donations of new stuffed bears and animals can be dropped off March 1-31 at:

Fika Coffee House – Mainstreet
19559 East Mainstreet,
Parker, CO 80138

Fika Coffee House – Idyllwilde
22040 East Idyllwilde Dr.
Parker, CO 80138

Search Parker Magazine
12760 Stroh Ranch Way
Suite 202
Parker, CO 80134

Rausch Motors LLC
18225 Ponderosa Dr,
Parker, CO 80134

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