Marching With the RARE Bear Army

It is well known that those who sew and quilt are some of the most generous hearted people around! There are many ways and places to use our generous hearts in our day-to-day lives, but often we are on our own. An event at the February 2019 Sewing and Stitchery Expo gave sewists and quilters an opportunity to unite around a common, very important cause – the RARE Bear Army!

Rare Bear logo

RARE Science for Rare Diseases

Several years ago scientist Christina Waters, PHD began RARE Science, a non-profit organization dedicated to the research of therapeutic treatments for children with rare diseases. The organization seeks to benefit over 250 million children, many of whom will not live past their 5th birthday.

Everyone unique!

Beyond medicine, hope is offered to these children and their families through one-of-a-kind RARE Bears awarded to thousands across the world. And, that is where the “soldiers” of the RARE Bear Army march in!

Simplicity Rare Bear pattern
Special Simplicity Pattern C5461

RARE Bear Ingredients

RARE Bear Army members register online, then purchase a specific Simplicity RARE Bear pattern. Once instructions are received from RARE Science, the personable bears are stitched in a scrappy mix of fabrics and sent to the organization for distribution. A portion of the proceeds from the Simplicity pattern sales supports RARE Science. Click here to register for the RARE Bear Army.  Click here for the Simplicity pattern.

RARE Bear Feet
Spoonflower RARE Bear Feet fabric

An individual serial number that identifies the maker and exclusive RARE Bear feet fabric, provided by Spoonflower, are attached to each bear. The serial number identifies the Army member and, once the bear is received, a picture of the treasure with it’s child is sent to the RARE Bear maker.

Child with bear gallery
Image Source: RARE Science

Receiving that picture is a significant event and makers often shed tears as they see the joy their bear has provided.

bowl of Coats thread and bear skins
Bear Skins waiting to be stuffed at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo

At the Puyallup WA Sewing and Stitchery Expo, handmade “bear skins” were brought to the show to be stuffed in an ongoing community party.

Stuffing RARE bears at Sewing and Stitchery Expo
Young RARE Bear Army recruits stuffing bears

Over 200 bears were donated and stuffed over the four days of the event and over 75 new RARE Bear Army members were added. Stuffing was donated by Mountain Mist and bear makers were awarded colorful spools of donated Coats and Clark Thread.

A few of the bears donated at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo

RARE Bear Soldiers

RARE Science founder, Christina was on-hand during the Expo to explain the value of RARE Bears and sign up new members. Well-known quilter, Rob Appell, strong supporter of the RARE Bear Army, appeared in the Sewing and Stitchery Expo booth on Sunday. While there, Rob chatted with Bear makers and helped handout RARE Bear feet and serial tag kits to new Army members.

Rob Appell
Rob Appell with a bear and donated Coats thread

Rob also put together a fun, informative RARE Bear video while in the booth. RARE Bears are the first stars on his newly launched YouTube channel, Making it Fun with Rob Appell! Click here to view the video Rob made at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. Click here for Rob’s YouTube tutorial on how to make a bear.

Linda with her bears
Linda stitched 5 RARE bears this year!

Every bear is unique, just as every child and their disease is unique. The Simplicity pattern contains optional accessories including a jacket, neck bow, vest and hat. At the Sewing and Stitchery Expo, Christina of Sheridan Art and Design introduced a Superhero Bear accessory pattern.

Sheridan Art Super Bear Accessories Pattern
Image Source: Sheridan Art and Design

Bears can now be made with an eye mask, cape and three different kinds of shields to help it’s child in their battle against a rare disease! Click here for the Superhero pattern.

Katie with Super Bear
Sewing and Stitchery Expo staffer  Katie and a super-size RARE Bear

Join the RARE Bear Army

For the RARE Bear program to march on, it takes an Army. The RARE Bear Army consists of over 5,000 makers in 10 countries and all 50 US states including over 100 quilting guilds. The motto “Helping Rare Kids One Bear at a Time” is exactly what Army members do and it was amazing to see the Sewing and Stitchery Expo platoon in action at the show. Bears were stuffed, new friends were made and the joy and hope of giving was constantly alive in the RARE Bear booth!

BEAR-NINA-Sew-in-Event bears
RARE Bears created at a 2017 BEAR-NINA Sew-in

If you, your guild or event would like to join the RARE Bear Army and march with them in bear making, contact RARE Science by clicking here. You can also visit their Facebook page or follow the activity on Instagram or Twitter. There’s always room for more makers and the joy of marching with this Army is highly rewarding.  A little fabric, a little time and you can add a smile, encouragement and hope to the life of a child with a rare, often incurable disease. What better way to use our skills and generous hearts!

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