Olivia’s Bears is a not-for-profit organization, created by Olivia Gonyea and her family in 2009. Olivia was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in 2009 at the age of eight. As of October 1st, 2010, Olivia has been cancer-free. Before Olivia’s treatment ended, she wanted to find a way to start giving back to the community. Touched by the gift of a Build-A-Bear that she received before going into one of her surgeries, she decided she wanted to start delivering bears to other children receiving medical treatment at Children’s Hospital. With the help of friends and family, Olivia’s Bears started with a small delivery of 20 bears. Now 14 years later, over a thousand bears have been delivered to children and their siblings.
Due to the overwhelming support of the community, Olivia’s Bears has been able to expand the support we provide to children and their families who are facing life threatening illnesses in the WNY community. See the “Highlights” section below to read about our work in the recent years.
As we continue to find new ways to support the local community, delivering bears will always remain at the core of what we do. Olivia knows first-hand that she could not have made it through her struggles without the love and support of others. Her hope is that the gifted bears remind children in need of how many people love and care for them. The gift of a build-a-bear is a sign of hope, a symbol of love and support.
Within the last few years, Olivia’s Bears has:
- Delivered over a thousand bears to children facing life threatening illnesses and their siblings
- Awarded nine $1,000.00 Olivia’s Bears – Jessica Stone Memorial Scholarships
- Donated toys and gaming systems to the oncology unit at Oishei Children’s Hospital
- Donated 10 patient starter kits to the oncology unit at Oishei Children’s Hospital
- Donated plastic storage units, Keurig coffee makers, two dryers, and an air hockey table for the oncology/hematology patients and their families at Oishei Children’s Hospital
- Donated 50 Medi Teddy IV Covers for all floors at Oishei Children’s Hospital
- Delivered chocolates to our essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Donated six months worth of parking passes for families to use at Oishei Children’s Hospital
Recognition in the Community
- Olivia was awarded the September 2021 Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union Community Award
- Olivia’s Bears was one of the 4 chosen charities for the first Shine Gold Campaign ran by Hope Rises
- 2023 Glory Be to The Kids Beneficiary