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ST. GEORGE — The family of a St. George doctor killed in a plane crash earlier this year has spent the past month working on a service project to benefit patients at Dixie Regional Medical Center.
What initially started as a small effort to gather 100 items to help patients, especially children, feel less anxiety before surgery, turned into something much bigger.
Family, friends, neighbors, their children's schools, even people they don't know, contributed teddy bears and blankets, some of them handmade. In all, 752 items were donated to the hospital.
The project is to honor Dr. Brad Brian's memory during the holidays and it's also helping his family find peace as they give to others — in the true spirit of Christmas.
Brian's wife, Camille Brian, has known for months that this year Christmas could be very hard.
"I knew our family would need something to help us get through this Christmas season," she said.
She wanted to give back to the community for the kindness they received during their tragic loss, and as a tribute to her husband.
"He loved to help other people feel comfortable and safe when they were here at the hospital."
She knew they needed to do something for patients, who are in the hospital.
"I have had a lot of his patients tell me that he was just so caring and provided so much reassurance and comfort and confidence before they would go into surgery."
Those compliments weren't a surprise to his family — helping others was the reason he became a doctor.
Dr. Brian's colleagues believe it is fitting way to remember him.
"Many patients don't remember their anesthesiologist," said Dr. Bryant Whiting, "but many remembered him."
Dr. Michael Chandler remembers Dr. Brian as "a kind, thoughtful capable, capable as an anesthesiologist, but just a wonderful human being."
By delivering all of the gracious donations to the hospital just before Christmas, Camille believes it is helping to overshadow the difficult moments of the holiday, knowing that giving and serving, is what Christmas is all about.
"I knew that it would help bring hope and love and healing to our family, and I hope we have done that for patients at the hospital that will receive these teddy bears and blankets that we brought, and help remind people of the true meaning of Christmas."