Bears brighten holidays

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 24, 2004

Her smile said it all. Fifteen-month-old Tionna Allen flashed a wide, nearly toothless grin as Alabama State Trooper Cpl. Rick Ward presented her with a teddy bear.

“You guys got to come here and see this,” Ward said, gesturing to the other troopers standing in the hall outside Tionna’s hospital room.

Tionna, clutching the bear in her bandaged hand, stared in amazement as the five other uniformed officers came into the room.

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She had a smile for each of them, too.

It was a touching moment that made the troopers visit to the pediatric unit at Vaughan Regional Medical Center all worthwhile.

Tionna was one of eight children in the hospital on Thursday who received a surprise visit from the troopers, who came by to bring a little Christmas joy.

Ward said every year the Alabama State Trooper Association visits children who have to spend the holidays in the hospital to give them little teddy bears dressed in a trooper uniform.

“It can get emotional,” said Trooper Melissa Hubbard.

Tionna’s mother, Maggie Brand, she is hoping her daughter will be able to return home for Christmas.

“We don’t know when she can go home,” she said.

Brand is not alone.

Down the hall, Pricilla Joy is worried about her three-year-old daughter Reality.

“Her arm is really swollen,” she said. “I don’t know when she can come home.”

Reality was asleep in her crib when the troopers came by the see her, but they made certain that she would have a nice surprise when she woke up.

Takira Smitherman, 12, looked like she was about to fall asleep herself when the troopers came by to give her a bear.

Takira’s mother said the gift and visit were greatly appreciated.

“It was so nice of them to come by,” she said. “(Takira) is not doing too well.”

The troopers spent nearly an hour in the pediatric unit talking with parents, visiting children and doing their best to lift some spirits.

Ward said the bears distributed to the children at Vaughan were similar to the ones kept in trooper patrol vehicles.

“We use them at accident scenes that involve children to help them calm down and make the situation a little less tense for them,” he said.

Ward said he hoped the bears brought a little comfort to the children who need it the most this Christmas.