ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2017) — Children spending Valentine’s Day week at Nemours Children’s Hospital got a special treat on Monday: Seven UCF College of Nursing students, dressed in their scrubs, visited their hospital rooms and brought along a new soft, cuddly bear.
In all, 88 ‘Knight Nurse’ teddy bears — also wearing UCF scrubs — arrived at Nemours as part of a larger fundraising campaign spearheaded by the college, and meant to brighten the day of hospitalized children.
Soon-to-be 13-year-old Karina, who has a closet of strategically placed stuffed animals at her Melbourne home, eagerly awaited her bear delivery before her chemotherapy treatment. When she was greeted by the nursing students, they immediately started discussing how to accessorize the bear with her favorite color, purple.
“It’s super, super soft. It’s the softest bear I think I have. It feels kind of like my unicorn,” Karina said. “Everyone is so nice here. Everyone’s just trying to make all the kids here feel better.”
In January, the college debuted its “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser that enabled the public to sponsor one – or an entire unit – of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs. The college partnered with MorUniversity, the college’s exclusive scrub provider, to create limited-edition bears outfitted in an exact replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students.
Donations were still coming in as of late last week, but the college estimated that roughly $14,000 was raised in the inaugural campaign. All money raised will help support priority areas in the UCF College of Nursing, including student scholarships, faculty research and medical mission trips.
Although the college is finished taking orders for this year’s distribution of bears, it intends to make this an annual event.
On Thursday and Friday, students will deliver more bears to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Florida Hospital for Children. In totally, roughly 225 bears will be delivered this year.
“I just love working with the kids. They have this incredible spirit, so any opportunity that I get to interact with them and to make them smile is just what makes it so special for me,” said Orlando native Hayley Boyle, who is in her last semester of UCF’s undergraduate nursing program and hopes to become a pediatric nurse. “These bears have such an impact. They’re just a beautiful thing to do.”
ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2017) – Brent Beumel ’14 and his fianceé Bryanna La Londe ’13 were driving back to Florida in November 2015 from a weekend trip in Savannah, where Brent had just popped the question in a historical bed and breakfast.
Giddy off the high of their engagement, they started imagining what their wedding day would look like. Who would officiate the ceremony?
Without a moment’s hesitation, long-time UCF sports and exercise science instructor Jeff Biddle emerged at the top of their list.
“He’s what every professor should be to a student. He doesn’t want you to just come in and get your degree and walk out. You could go into his office anytime he was in there and talk with him. He loved to get to know people and what you wanted to do with your life,” Bryanna said. “He was the first person we thought of.”
The now-Beumels met in 2012 in a biomechanics class at UCF’s South Lake campus in Clermont.
They started out as friends. Bryanna had plans to move to Portland, Oregon, at summer’s end. After a month, their relationship progressed to more than friends.
“And then I didn’t go! And it worked out well,” Bryanna said with a smile.
The two finished their sports and exercise science degrees, frequently driving the hefty commute out to Clermont – Bryanna drove 70 miles one way from her mother’s home in Merritt Island — because they loved the program and professors, especially Biddle, so much.
“Every class that he taught in our major, I tried to sign up with him. He made the drive out to Clermont worth it,” said Brent, who lived less than eight miles from UCF’s main campus at the time. “It was an hour to get out there, but you knew when you’d have him at 8 o’clock in the morning it was going to be fun. It wasn’t just staring at a PowerPoint for an hour and a half. You were interacting with him and all the other students. He made it enjoyable. He’s not one we’ll forget.”
Bryanna, a first-generation student, graduated in 2013 and is now working in the rehabilitation department at Arnold Palmer Hospital. Brent graduated a year later as a second-generation UCF alumnus.
As fate would have it, Brent’s parents met while they were students at UCF at a house party on Alafaya. His mother Linda graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
They didn’t expect that decades later, their son would mirror their love story and find his future wife while at school.
“UCF helped make me who I am. The experiences I had through sport and exercise molded me into the trainer and coach that I am now,” said Brent, who works at CrossFit Firebase in Orlando. “I view it as a starting off point. That’s where we met. It’s where my parents met, as well. It holds a special value in that to me.”
Brent and Bryanna got married on Thanksgiving weekend in 2016 at Club Lake Plantation in Apopka with a black-and-gold-bow-tie-clad Biddle as their officiant.
Their grandparents gifted the couple their wedding rings and served as ring bearers in their ceremony.
The gold band of Brent’s ring belonged to his grandfather. It had to be pieced back together after it was cut off his grandfather’s finger following a motorcycle accident.
When the jeweler melded it together, he chose a black zirconium to sandwich it, making it the perfect color combination for Brent’s UCF roots.
As the couple anticipated, Biddle was a hit among the family in attendance. He was as comical and engaging in the ceremony as he is in the classroom.
In order to perform the ceremony, the professor needed to obtain a notary license. He told the couple to leave the logistics to him and insisted on paying the associated fee.
Biddle, who makes it a point to attend as many of his students’ commencement ceremonies as he can, said that Brent and Bryanna’s request to serve as their officiant was an honor and a privilege.
That realization hit him even harder when he recently watched their wedding video.
“Their kids and their kids’ kids are going to be watching that video. I’m permanently a part of their lives and their family’s lives from now on. And that’s pretty cool,” Biddle said. “I am thrilled that they asked me, thrilled that they wanted me to do it. It is certainly one of the bigger moments to happen in my life.”
What he may not realize is that he already secured a special place in their lives a long time ago.
“Being a first generation degree seeker – professors are who I looked up to for guidance and direction throughout the whole process. Dr. Biddle was a role model for me,” Bryanna said. “Finding what you love to do may change over the years and that’s OK. That is something I learned from him. I don’t even know if I’ve ever told him this, but it’s how I feel about him and what he’s done for me.”
ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2017) — This Valentine’s Day, students from the UCF College of Nursing will bring love in the form of a cuddly teddy bear to local hospitalized children with the help of alumni, friends and the community.
The “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser enables the public to sponsor one – or an entire unit – of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs to be delivered the week of Valentine’s Day to sick kids at local hospitals. So far, UCF nursing students will deliver bears to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Florida Hospital for Children and Nemours Children’s Hospital.
The college has partnered with MorUniversity, the college’s exclusive scrub provider, to create limited-edition bears outfitted in an exact replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students. To sponsor one Knight Nurse bear costs $50. To reserve bears for two units – 19 bears, plus one for the sponsor – is $1,000; and to reserve nine bears for one unit, plus one for the sponsor, is $500. In sponsoring a unit, donors also can choose to donate their assigned bear.
“In addition to providing comfort and love to a child when they need it most, the Knight Nurse bears will make a positive impact on our nursing students, faculty, research and ultimately, the community,” said Mary Lou Sole, dean of the UCF College of Nursing.
All money raised from this campaign will help support priority areas in the UCF College of Nursing, including student scholarships, faculty research and medical mission trips.
“Like these bears, nurses provide comfort when people need it most. We hope that anyone who has been touched by a nurse will join us in this effort,” Sole said.
One student is looking forward to seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they receive a bear.
“As a UCF nursing student, I am always looking for ways to reach out to the community and provide compassionate care. The bear campaign not only helps students like me, but it is a wonderful opportunity to impact a child’s life,” said Corrine Medeiros, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing. “Providing a child with a bear will bring a smile to their face and will make them more familiar with the medical staff.”
The idea for the fundraiser began about three years ago, but this year, the College of Nursing was finally able to launch it after finalizing the details, such as the bears’ replica scrubs.
On Feb. 11, the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter made its second visit to the Quantum House, which lessens the burdens for families with children receiving treatment in Palm Beach County for serious medical conditions.
This time, chapter volunteers prepared a Valentine’s Day-themed meal, complete with heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches, organic tomato soup and a salad bar with heart-shaped tomatoes. After dinner, the kids got to decorate cupcakes, brownies and chocolate-covered strawberries with a variety of red and pink icing and candies. (The groceries were provided by Loggerhead Marina.)
“Our group left feeling inspired,” says Brittany Miller, ’07, chair of the Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter. “Many of our volunteers were asking how they can stay involved with the Quantum House on their own time.”
The chapter participates in many different volunteer projects throughout the year. It’s previously worked with Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Boys Town South Florida, Big Heart Basket Brigade and Paint Your Heart Out/United Way.
Miller adds, “It’s great being able to connect our UCF alumni with these organizations, broadening the impact we have in the Palm Beach community.”
This Valentine’s Day, surprise your love with a unique gift that will last forever. Purchase a brick on our beautiful Knights Terrace patio at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, and have it etched with a custom message for your special someone.
Knights Terrace is the place where your lifelong pride, passion and support for UCF is on display every day, and at countless events hosted on these special grounds. Your legacy will be forever chiseled into our history.