[infobox maintitle=”Original Article appears on Sickkids Stories, published on Oct. 18 2016″ subtitle=”” bg=”blue” color=”white” space=”30″ link=”http://www.sickkidsfoundation.com/aboutus/newsandmedia/stories2016octmuskokabearwear”]

It was an experience the Muskoka Bear Wear team will never forget. Located at the 7.5 km mark of The Great Camp Adventure Walk, Muskoka Bear Wear was set up to meet and greet Walk participants as well as raise awareness about the support they give to SickKids.

“It was incredible to see so many people come out on this one day to support SickKids,” said Mark of Muskoka Bear Wear from his first-time experience at the Walk. “We had set up a three-legged race on planks for people to take part in. We met so many new friends and were able to chat with a lot of people about our donation efforts in support of SickKids year-round.”

Muskoka Bear Wear is a proud Ontario-based company which started 13 years ago at its flagship store in Bracebridge. Because of their deep connection with the local community, when it came time to choose a new charity to support, they didn’t have to look far for the inspiration.

“Friends of ours in Muskoka had complications with their pregnancy and ended up having to stay at SickKids after their son, Cohen, was born,” said Mark. “We had a chance to visit the family in hospital and were blown away by the facility.”

They were also taken aback by the amount of families in the Muskoka region who used SickKids.

“After our friends’ experience at SickKids, we began to learn about other families in Muskoka who have used SickKids. And once we decided to make SickKids our focus of fundraising, people began sharing their SickKids story when they would come in to the store. We were amazed by just how many people from the Muskoka area, as well as families who spent their summers in Muskoka, were SickKids families.”

This year, we introduced #SocksForSickKids.

Muskoka Bear Wear began their support of SickKids in 2014, and donated more than $21,000 that first year.

“We started with $1 from every child’s garment sold going to SickKids,” said Mark. “We had set a goal of $10,000 and were thrilled that we were able to double it by year end.”

The first year success drove them to want to do more for SickKids. So, in 2015, they added another element to their donation efforts: a Gund Bear named Toothpick. All proceeds from the bear sales would support SickKids as well. Their 2015 donation to SickKids was $34,000.

“This year, we introduced #SocksForSickKids,” said Mark. “We developed a sock in the SickKids colours and have been selling them for $15, with all proceeds from the sales going to SickKids.”

The Muskoka Bear Wear team has been thrilled with the response they have seen from the sale of the socks.

“People are sharing photos on social media proudly wearing their SickKids socks. It really makes us feel good to see how many people are embracing #SocksForSickKids. Because of their enthusiasm, we hope to surpass last year’s donation amount to SickKids. Our year-end is October 31, so we’d love to be able to get some more socks out there and blow last year’s donation out of the water!”

As for Cohen, the baby who inspired Muskoka Bear Wear to want to get involved with SickKids; “He just turned five years old, is now a SickKids graduate and is 100% healthy.”