Bear Hugs Program

What is a Bear Hug?

A Bear Hug is a customized experience that brightens the life of a child going through cancer. Every Bear Hug is different because every child is different. We work with the child and their family to design a Bear Hug that meets their unique needs and interests.

Do I Qualify for a Bear Hug?

Any children (0-19) currently in treatment, living in the state of Illinois or being treated at one of the nine major Chicago area hospitals with pediatric oncology departments qualifies for our services. We also serve some Illinois hospitals outside the city of Chicago, as well as Illinois patients who are hospitalized out of state.

How Can I Get A Bear Hug?

The best way to start the Bear Hug process is to reach out to your hospital’s social worker or child life specialist. They have the necessary paperwork needed to formally refer a child. If you are not being treated at one of our nine partner hospitals (see list) please contact, Director of Programs, Michelle Hanfling at directly.

Please note: Due to confidentiality guidelines, parents/guardians and hospital staff are the only individuals authorized to submit a formal referral. If you have questions about this policy, please contact, Directors of Programs, Michelle Hanfling at directly to discuss.

What Do Most Kids Choose To Do?

Every Bear Hug is unique, so there really isn’t a standard experience! Your Bear Hug Giver will work with you to find the best fit for your child. The more creative the kids get, the more fun the Bear Hug! Your Bear Hug Giver can provide you with examples for your child’s age group and gender, but we encourage you to make the experience your own.

How Do I Give A Bear Hug?

Click on the “Donate” button below or look for any special needs you might help fulfill this will be listed on this page.

Past Hugs

Daniel, Age 5
Diagnosis: Leukemia ALL

Roman, Age 4
Diagnosis: Leukemia ALL

Brighten the life of a child going through cancer with a Bear Hug

Bear Discoveries helps cutting-edge researchers to ultimately find a cure

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Donate Today to help the children and families fighting pediatric cancer


Chicago Headquarters

55 West Wacker Dr, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 214-1200