Jamie Nicklas & Sandra Bonneville

Guest Story: Jamie Nicklas & Sandra Bonneville

DeKalb, Ill.

We didn’t know places like Kathy’s House existed. It’s like a sanctuary.

Family tradition endures during monthslong stay

Jamie Nicklas spent two months at Kathy’s House this summer, alternating with her grandfather as caregiver for her grandmother, Sandra Bonneville. In addition to her time and support, Jamie gifted her grandmother a 24-hour companion for her month-long hospital stay – inspired by a longtime family tradition.

As a child, Jamie fondly recalled traveling from her small hometown to visit her grandparents in Appleton. A particularly special treat was a trip to the local mall’s Build-A-Bear Workshop, where she and her siblings each created a unique plush friend.

“On our birthdays, they would send clothing and accessories for the bear,” Jamie recalled.

And Sandra continued the tradition with each new grandchild, always sending a Build-a-Bear.

When Sandra told Jamie that her care team dubbed her transplant date her “second birthday,” Jamie had a realization. “It dawned on me that no one had ever given her a bear. She never had one of her own.

So I was trying to think a special birthday gift to give her, and it seemed like the right thing. Now Mr. Bear just watches over her every day,” Jamie said.