Making a Difference

Brett Sanford: Building bears to bridge healing

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Nearly 20 years ago, Brett and his wife, Shannon, drove to the hospital to deliver their baby girl. After several hours of labor, the baby’s heart rate dropped. Doctors performed an emergency C-section ‚Äî but it was too late. Brett and Shannon lost baby Elizabeth.

Making sense of the tragedy

Their four-year-old son, Andrew, struggled to understand his sister’s death and had difficulty expressing his emotions. “Over the next few months, we found that Andrew would often talk to one of his teddy bears about Elizabeth,” Brett shares, explaining how he and Shannon acted as the bear’s voice. “These conversations brought Andrew a lot of comfort and peace — and also helped us understand how we could help him.”

A special way to honor Elizabeth

In 2006, on what would have been Elizabeth’s 10th birthday, Brett and Shannon came up with an incredible plan to honor her. They formed The Forever Bear Foundation — a nonprofit that provides stuffed teddy bears wearing custom Forever Bear T-shirts to children who have lost a brother or sister at birth. Since its inception, more than 600 bears have been donated to American Fork Hospital in Utah.

“I hope that this helps others turn tragic situations into something positive,” Brett says. “Even small gestures can make a big difference.”

Brett is vice president of financial management at CHG and was one of our 13 Difference Maker finalists. CHG’s Difference Maker program celebrates our people who are committed to changing the world by making a positive social impact on others and in their communities.

About the author

Shonda Smith

Shonda Smith

Shonda Smith is a senior communications specialist for CHG Healthcare. When she’s not sharing stories about our awesome people and culture, she’s mountain biking, hiking, skydiving and enjoying Utah life with her hubby and pup.

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