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Posted on: Nov 16, 2018

What the Bears on Patrol Program Means to Me: Joseph Bryant

On December 6, the Paralegal Committee of the IndyBar is hosting its annual Paralegal Holiday Luncheon where attendees will not only celebrate the season but have the chance to donate stuffed animals to the Bears on Patrol program, which supports emergency service organizations in Indianapolis. EMS organizations provide the donated animals to children who've experienced something traumatizing in hopes of giving them a little comfort in an otherwise awful situation. Take a look below for an IndyBar member's personal take on what the program and the luncheon mean to him and his family.

By Joseph Bryant

The Bears on Patrol program has a special meaning to my family and I. On April 23, 2008, the mother of my children was murdered right before their eyes by their biological father while I was on the phone with him. Biologically, the kids are my nieces, but I've since taken them in. The oldest was about to turn five and the youngest was only six months old when this horrifying thing happened to them. I arrived on scene about 30 minutes later. The kids were being watched by a neighbor and a sheriff had given each of the kids a stuffed animal. I spent the next two hours on the phone trying to talk their father out of the house with the SWAT team. Everyone else was focused on the father, but one officer took the time to try and comfort the kids and make sure they were safe. Hugging releases oxytocin often called the “bonding hormone,” and reduces stress. The stuffed animals were all the comfort they had for over an hour.

A couple years later, I ran into Sheriff Ron Richardson at Meijer. My oldest child remembered him. Ron remembered the kids, too. I have since run into Sheriff Richardson several times in town at different events and we always talk about how the kids are doing. At the most traumatic time in my children’s lives, an officer took the time during all of the insanity to give my kids comfort.

Recently, I was cleaning their rooms and gathering items for a garage sale when I found the bears again. I am embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t seen them in probably three years, so I started sobbing. Every little bit of kindness can mean so much.

Police departments are often underfunded and lack the resources to purchase extra things like stuffed animals for children. Both stuffed animals given to my kids were handmade and donated. It's these small yet caring acts of kindness that make the biggest difference in unfortunate situations, so I encourage you to attend the IndyBar's Paralegal Holiday Luncheon to thank our first responders and to donate stuffed animals. Every day, kids are witnesses or, unfortunately, victims of trauma, and every child should get receive just as much kindness as my kids did.

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