Legacy of 9/11: Group of women reunite to create grief teddy bears for fallen soldiers

Sherry Poulson, left, Carrie Pike and Beth Cole, right, have reunited to create grief teddy bears for the 13 service men and women who were killed in a suicide bombing attack outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. (KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of women who helped orchestrate the construction of more than 400 grief teddy bears for a 9/11 project 20 years ago are back at it again.

This time, they're remembering the American service men and women who lost their lives in the suicide bombing attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Aug. 26.

"It's so sad. They went over to fight for our freedom for what happened at 9/11, and now, they've lost their lives," said an emotional Carrie Pike as she worked from her home, sewing the teddy bears. "We have 13 bears out of the military fabric with their official patches, with 'In Loving Memory,' and their name and their rank on the back of the bears."

One of those includes Marine Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, from Midvale, who was one of the 13 killed.

"Hopefully, we will give a little bit of comfort to the families that are hurting so much right now," said Pike.

But this isn't the first time Pike, who owns Carrie Bears, has done a volunteer project like this.

Twenty years ago, she joined forces with the same Beth Cole and Sherry Poulson in a monumental project, involving the creation of 403 grief teddy bears — one for the family of every fallen firefighter, police officer and Port Authority officer who lost their lives in the attack on the Twin Towers in New York.

At that time, Cole and Poulson were running the "Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief" program at the University of Utah College of Nursing.

Cole said she had the idea after the attack that she wanted to help by making these bears.

"Just to say, 'We're thinking of you. We care about you. We know this is a terrible time in your life,'" said Cole. "Something tangible, sometimes it's helpful. When you're grieving, it helps you get through a hard time and remind you that the person was a real person."

Poulson said hundreds of volunteers stepped up to help as they worked over the following two months to get the bears done and delivered.

"It's something to hold on to. It's something that you can take to bed with you. You can caress it, you can have it on your shelf or mantel," said Poulson.

That's why, they said, they knew they needed to do something for the families of the fallen soldiers from the recent attack in Afghanistan.

"We thought, 'We can't let these last warriors go on unrecognized,' and so we came up with this last project," said Poulson.

The women said the result of their 9/11 service project has been overwhelming.

A simple teddy bear can be life changing.

"I have become like dear friends with some of these firefighter widows, and I could call on them for anything," said an emotional Pike, who was invited to New York to participate in some of the memorials with the families following 9/11. "That absolutely has changed my life – that it made a difference for someone else has changed me."

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Dan Rascon


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