Jerry the Bear

Few funding campaigns pull heartstrings while actually doing measurable good. Jerry, impressively, is doing both.

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A few years ago at Maker Faire New York a grown man with a teddy bear came up to me. He introduced himself as Aaron Horowitz and thanked me for being awesome. I was more than a little taken aback. Aaron had applied for sponsorship and gotten $100 worth of SparkFun parts to wire up his teddy bear to help educate kids about diabetes. What I didn’t realize is just how awesome Jerry the Bear was about to become!

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Not everyone at SparkFun gets to travel and visit with our awesome users, so we bring in a handful of guest speakers each year so that SparkFunions can see and talk to folks doing awesome work. Aaron was one of those folks nice enough to make the trek to Boulder and share his and his co-founder Hannah’s project, Jerry the Bear. If you get the chance, you have to hear their story! Aaron is funny, passionate, a great speaker, and, from the technology side, Jerry the Bear is the perfect combination of using modern tools to help make the world a better place. Everyone at SparkFun left Aaron’s talk feeling wonderful that people like him were building amazing things.

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Fast forward a year and a half and that same crazy guy with a teddy bear, and his co-founder Hannah, have designed, built, and delivered over 300 bears to families and children with type 1 diabetes. I don’t have diabetes so Aaron had to explain it to me this way: Imagine you’re six and everything is ok, then your parents start to get upset and they start poking you with needles. It’s incredibly scary, with little explanation as to why this is happening. Jerry the Bear was created so that those kids could have something to relate to and learn from.

And you know what? It’s working. Working fabulously. Jerry is teaching young kids what diabetes is and how to manage it. After one year Jerry, Hannah and Aaron have reached 2% of the kids newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes this past year. It’s one thing to say that you’re going to change the world; it’s another to do it.

I cannot say enough good things about Jerry and the team behind him. After tackling 2% they are now trying to help every child newly diagnosed with diabetes. That’s something like 12,000 bears. It’s audacious and I love it. I’m thrilled to know Jerry’s story - you should too.


Comments 5 comments

  • :) This is a really great idea!!!! Receiving a diagnosis of type one diabetes at a young age really is a very scary and confusing experience just as you described above. I am sure that this will make a huge difference in these children’s lives. I am so very happy to hear about Sparkfun’s contribution to this project. Keep up all of the good work you guys do. :)

  • This is really awesome. I will be giving to this campaign. Thanks Sparkfun for being involved, and telling us about Jerry the Bear.

  • 12,000 of the bears a year? Sounds like work for a “contract manufacturer”. Is SF going to be involved in that?

    • Good question but no - we don’t do contract manufacturing. The original Jerry had lots of red boards that made it work but Jerry is now being built by other folks which is a really good thing. We concentrate on the proto boards and how-to products. Aaron is an excellent example of gathering all that knowledge and mashing it together to create a cool and worth-while new product.

  • Awesome sauce: “ It’s one thing to say that you’re going to change the world; it’s another to do it.”

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