A Florida girl is bringing comfort to families amid tragedy; Megan O’Grady is taking the uniforms of fallen law enforcement officers and turning them into teddy bears for their families.
Incidents like the recent shooting deaths of two local Kissimmee, Florida, police officers are what inspired 15-year-old O’Grady to start the nonprofit “Blue Line Bears.”
Every day, O’Grady watches as her father leaves home to put his life on the line as a Cape Coral Police Officer.
“He’s my hero. That’s what he is to me. And I love him,” O’Grady said.
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqXwvvTzehY” /]
Last July, a peaceful protest in Dallas took a devastating turn when 12 officers were shot and five were killed. O’Grady said these officer shootings triggered something inside her, and that’s what led to the creation of Blue Line Bears.
The uniform shirts are turned into teddy bears. The officers’ patches are on the bears’ arms, the buttons are used for eyes, she embroiders their name and badge number on the chest, and their End of Watch date on the foot.
“They’re a piece of the family member that they lost. And obviously you can’t bring them back. That’s something I wish I could do, but I can’t. But it’s kind of a way to remember them,” O’Grady said.
Her bears have reached 21 different states. More than a hundred bears have gone to 60 different families of fallen officers.
O’Grady’s first bears were for Orlando Police Officer Debra Clayton and Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis. Lewis died in a crash in January while helping search for the man who killed Clayton. His family lives in Port Charlotte, Florida.
“Norm Lewis’s parents, they were hard to deliver to. That one, I started sobbing,” O’Grady said.
O’Grady’s story came full circle when, three weeks ago, she delivered bears to the families of three officers killed in Dallas—the tragedy that sparked the idea for Blue Line Bears.
“It’s definitely hard having these bears, because obviously each one tells a different story, has a different family, a different person it belongs to,” O’Grady said. “That’s why I do it. Because no one else has.”
O’Grady has been contacted about turning the uniforms of the fallen Kissimmee officers into bears for their families.
For more information on the nonprofit Blue Line Bears, click here.
Written by Lisa Greenberg for WFTX.