After fans covered the ice Saturday night with teddy bears, the Kelowna Rockets took those bears to Kelowna General Hospital Sunday to surprise some unsuspecting patients.
“This is the community coming together, particularly the Rockets fans, to provide a little bit of a merrier Christmas for people who have to spend it in the hospital or in receiving health care over Christmas,” said Doug Rankmore, CEO of the KGH Foundation. “This is a big tradition for the Rockets and we’re really grateful to them.”
Fans flooded the ice with teddy bears Saturday night after Conner Bruggen-Cate scored the game’s first goal, leading to staff cleaning up four truckloads full of bears, a full truckload more than last year’s toss.
“It’s getting more and more successful,” Rankmore said. “Almost everybody who comes to the game comes with a teddy bear. They’re incredible, incredible supporters, and this is a very caring community so lots of people know what good this does.”
Rockets players grabbed arms full of teddy bears and were guided through the hospital, giving them to patients both young and old.
Two young patients that received bears were Kobei Schrenk, 9, and his brother Alex, 12.
“It was awesome,” said Kobei’s father Darren Schrenk when the Rockets came in their room to visit. “We were going to set up our Christmas tree today because it’s a family tradition that we do it on the 1st. We finally got a hall pass so we can get out and decorate the tree today, but as soon as I got home the nurse phoned and goes, ‘The Rockets are coming! What a time for you to leave. Do you want to come back?’ And I’m like ‘well yeah!’ and [the kids] are all like, ‘yeah!’ so we came back here.”
About two weeks ago, Darren got a call from Kobei’s school that Kobei was pale, sick, and limping. Two days later he was brought to the hospital with an infection in his leg that antibiotics weren’t removing, which led to doctor’s opening his leg to flush out the infection. He has been in hospital for two weeks and he will remain in hospital for two to three weeks more with six weeks of home care after that.
“They enjoy the Rockets,” Darren said. “They love them.”
With so many bears given away Saturday night, Rankmore says that literally everybody in the hospital will get a bear for Christmas.
“Just a huge thank you to the Rockets club and all the fans who were there last night to be so generous,” Rankmore said.
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