There is an Irish proverb that states “You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” Megan O’Grady may have heard that proverb growing up. Perhaps she even referenced it on July 7th, 2016, in the aftermath of the tragic murder of 5 Dallas police officers. Either way, then 14-year-old Megan acted out those very words when she decided to honor the fallen officers and care for the loved ones. As a daughter of a police officer, she knew the children and the families had now realized the fears of every Law Enforcement family—these men and women put their lives at risk every time they go to work, and there is always a chance they won’t come home safe.
So, from that day forward, she ploughed. HAIX® is proud to highlight Blue Line Bears, a nonprofit organization that provides a personalized, handmade keepsake for the children and families of fallen officers as a reminder of their heroism and bravery.
In just under 8 years, Blue Line Bears has grown exponentially. What began as a gesture to the children of the Dallas officers has now become an international endeavor. Megan and her team have made over 1,430 bears for over 530 families in 46 states, Canada, Malta, Afghanistan, Jamaica and England. But Megan doesn’t plan to stop there. “My vision for Blue Line Bears is to continue with our current mission and eventually be able to expand to all first responders” she says, echoing the mission stated on their site. “Blue Line Bears will provide a tangible, positive reminder that their loved ones will always be with them.”
Bears are crafted out of actual uniform shirts owned by the officers. All bears are made individually. No part of the bears is made in advance or in bulk, and all are lovingly made by hand. The eyes of the bears are made from uniform shirt buttons. The patches and insignias are detailed and personalized. And bears are adorned with the St. Michaels medal upon completion, the patron saint of law enforcement officers and a symbol of their bravery. Bears are then delivered directly to families at no cost to the families or anyone making the request.
Stories of their impact would extend far beyond the space allowed for this article. There are hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of families of fallen officers that have been impacted by their mission.
One example came early in their history. “The first time we delivered bears we drove to Orlando and delivered bears to three different families” Megan remembers. One of the families included young twins, who were present when their father suffered a heart attack after his shift and passed away. “We learned a few weeks after the delivery that for the first time since he passed away, they were able to sleep in their own beds.”
Another delivery was special for another reason. For this family in New York, the bear recipients were the officer's parents rather than his children. “We ran into them a few months later and his mom told us that on the day she received the bear she saw her son in a dream for the first time since he passed, and he told her that he was ok.”
Blue Line Bears provides these treasures at no cost to the families or departments that request a bear to honor fallen officers. They operate on a volunteer basis and accept donations. According to Megan, the biggest way folks can support their worthy cause is to spread the word. “When more and more people know about us, it makes it easier for us to reach out and make bears for families because they are already aware of our cause.”
Bears can be requested by anyone associated with the fallen officer. This includes departments, family liaisons and family members. If the request is made by someone other than family or an employee of the fallen officer’s department, verification may be requested. For more information about Blue Line Bears, including their mission, impact, the process or ways you can support their cause, visit their website at https://bluelinebears.org/ or follow them on Instagram at @blue_line_bears.