The Zoe Bear Project: Bringing awareness to Cystic Fibrosis one bear at a time.
HARRISBURG, Ore. - Cystic Fibrosis affects more than 30,000 people nationwide according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
It's a disease that many people may not know much about, if anything at all.
But one local woman learned more about Cystic Fibrosis through her coworker named Zoe, and was inspired to educate others.
Her name is Melinda McMurry, and she says her inspiration to spread the word about Cystic Fibrosis came after visiting Zoe in the hospital with a toy bunny stuffed with candy.
Melinda says Zoe loved it -- that's when the idea came to her, an idea called "The Zoe Bear Project."
Hundreds of bears have been donated to The Zoe Bear Project.
Volunteers cut open the bears, rip out the stuffing, and stuff candy back inside.
"On the way here, my husband's all, 'This is really fun,' and I'm all, 'I know!'" said Melinda.
It's a fun project with a cute look, but each bear's job is important.
The candy inside is used to help those diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis up their caloric intake, something Jamie Michels has to help her daughter with on a daily basis.
"What Cystic Fibrosis does is the mucus in the body thickens," said Jamie Michels, a volunteer at the stuffing party on Saturday. "What most people know about Cystic Fibrosis is it affects the lungs, but it also affects your digestive system, your liver; it affects all kinds of stuff in your body."
All the bears are headed to Doernbecher Childrens' Hospital in Portland to be transferred the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic near there, along with a very large money donation.
The project began in July of 2017, led by Melinda, but has quickly taken off.
"I let God take control, and I didn't rush anything," said Melinda. "I wasn't calling a whole bunch of people, I made very little phone calls and people just really liked the idea."
She said she's received over one thousand stuffed animal donations from Pet Smart, 62 pounds of candy from Winco, and the help isn't only coming from local organizations and community members.
"From Canada, from Georgia, from California," said Melinda, "sending me cases of bears, sending me money. So, it's just been an amazing journey."
Melinda's journey with the project is already impacting those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.
"That's awesome for them to think about that, that there are people that know what they're having to go through and they want to help and comfort them - that's awesome in itself," said Jamie.
"Everybody needs to do that - you just need to step out and help other people," said Melinda. "It does not hurt, and it makes you feel so good."
Melinda still needs help stuffing the bears full of candy to send to Doernbechers.
There is also a walk for Cystic Fibrosis coming up in Eugene in August - you can find more information on the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation page.