Local nonprofit that supports sick kids is spreading the ‘Happy,’ temporarily without the ‘Wheels’

Updated: Apr. 3, 2020 at 6:47 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - We realize times are difficult and you need something to smile about. Well, we have two things for you to smile about -- helping the kids and teddy bears.


There’s no more universal sign of comfort and childhood than a teddy bear and there’s nothing funnier than seeing an inanimate object do human things. In that light, the Happy Wheels Bear Hunt came to life.

“We’re all just needing a little joy and encouragement," Tracey Rankin, Happy Wheels Executive Director said. “Something light and happy to hear about and engage in right now. It’s just been super fun all the way around. Something super light to take our minds off all the heaviness right now."

Rankin said they wanted to find a way to continue to deliver smiles to not only kids they normally serve in the hospital but also to their sponsors and supporters internet-wide. Happy Wheels is a nonprofit organization whose volunteers deliver toys and books to kids in the hospital.

Often, it’s the only choice they get to make during some very difficult treatments. Many are cancer patients and going through difficult, lengthy treatments. Now, kids and parents stuck in the hospital or at home can follow along with the Happy Wheels Bear Hunt online!

The Happy Wheels Bear spent some time a couple weeks ago stopping by favorite spots across the state to thank sponsors and supporters. They’re not out and taking new photos right now, due to social distancing guidelines, but they did stock up on lot of photos to get them through the foreseeable future. With every $20 donation, the bears go “on the hunt” yet again.

While the bear hunt is a fun distraction, Rankin said it doesn’t replace the beautiful in-person interaction that Happy Wheels delivers.

“We can't wait to get back to it. And especially after having to take a break, we're all going to have a renewed sense of priority and a new sense of what's important,” Rankin said. “These kids have been missing Happy Wheels as well. Everybody is gonna be really glad to see each other. There will be a lot of hugs!”

While there’s no end in sight right now and Happy Wheels had to postpone or cancel their two big fundraisers for this year, you can still connect and donate online.

Every $20 allows the organization, which is volunteer and donation-based, to support two kids picking something off the Happy Wheels cart. When they are up and running at full capacity, they visit 400 kids a week across the state.

You can find the Happy Wheels Bear Hunt on Facebook by going to this link.

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