Valley man touches the lives of hospital patients through teddy bears

Posted at 6:44 AM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 09:44:05-04

We first met Emery Miller back in 2010. He was just 12 years old and already had a story to tell. A little boy with a heart problem who wasn't supposed to live past the age of one.

He had four open heart surgeries but you could say somewhere along the way Emery started to develop a heart for other small patients. He wanted to give just one teddy bear away to another child in the hospital.

His mom posted his wish on Facebook in 2010 and it took off.

Today, Emery is 18 years old and blown away that his teddy bear drive is still going.

"I was a 5th grader," Emery says. "You don't think they're going to do much, right?

They're small. They don't have money. They don't work. What can a 5th grader do?

Emery has actually done a lot. He started Team Emery, a nonprofit that now donates stuffed bears and animals to 28 hospitals in nine states.

"It's not a teddy bear that they're getting," Emery says. "It's hope. It's encouragement. It's bravery. It's everything that is really outside of those four white walls in the room."

To date, he's given away more than 25,000 bears.

"When you think about each teddy bear being a family, a person — that's when it starts hitting you on how impactful this is," he explains.

Emery has made such a difference he was just honored in the Prudential Spirit of the Community Awards as Arizona's top high school volunteer. Olympian Michael Phelps was on-hand for the honor.

Emery is heading to college, but Team Emery isn't going anywhere. 

"This is something that's grown humongous and it really is changing people’s lives one teddy bear at a time," Emery says.