Formal dresses and tuxedos set the mood last month for a night of class at Project Ed Bear’s 19th annual gala auction. The gala helped raise money for children diagnosed with cancer in northeast Ohio.
The auction consisted of two parts, an oral auction and a silent auction, with items ranging from a James Bond movie poster signed by all six actors to paintings made by the patients. Other events included a 50/50 raffle and a jewelry auction, with a chance to win a Tiffany piece, as well as a red carpet walk, where the Ed Bear kids have the chance to walk down the red carpet to receive a bravery award.
Project Ed Bear was founded by Ede Bittle when he was 11-years-old. Bittle had broken his leg playing football and when getting x-rays, doctors found bone tumors that might be cancerous. After more tests, diagnosis proved to be non cancerous. Ede considered himself fortunate and wanted to give back to the kids who did have cancer.
“My only experience with cancer prior to breaking my leg was my Grandmother’s passing. As an 11-year-old, it was a scary and life changing place to be,” Bittle said.
He brought the idea to his mom about raising money to buy the children a teddy bear and he began selling ornaments door to door. Soon afterwards, they held their first auction and the foundation has been growing since.
“Project Ed Bear is a mobile volunteer non-profit organization that focuses on providing comforts and needs for children with cancer within Northeast Ohio,” Bittle said. “Whenever a child is admitted to the ward they a given a teddy bear, the signature of Ed Bear.”
The organization also supplies the children with various games and toys and each child in the ward receives gifts for major holidays. There is also a summer camp called Camp Ed Bear, a scholarship program, and a “Live Through Art” program, where kids are paired with local artists in order to teach them the meaning of art and help them express themselves and their creativity.
All funding for these programs comes from events held and donations given to the foundation.
“The funding for Project Ed Bear comes mainly through our major fundraisers. So the auction is one that we have every year. We also had another fundraiser earlier this year which was a golf outing. It’s the Tim Holderbaum Memorial Golf Outing, and this was the second year we’ve done that,” he said.
Ede now sits on the board of directors for Project Ed Bear and invites anyone who would like to become involved or make a donation to visit their website, projectedbear.org, and contact either himself or his mother, Susan Bittle.