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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Motivated by his experience as a burn victim, Matthew Whaley is continuing his mission to provide comfort to kids in the burn unit at MetroHealth Hospital.

Whaley and two associates delivered box truck full of 1,500 stuffed animals – a small symbol of comfort that will go a long way for patients.

“When I was 18 years old, I got burned from the waist down with 425-degree grease,” Whaley said. “We’ve been doing this now for 32 years, giving donations to the MetroHealth Hospitals.”

MetroHealth Burn Program Manager Andrew Neading said these stuffed animals will be distributed to every kid that’s treated in the burn unit.

“It’s awesome,” Neading said. “It’s great what Matt’s done for us over the last 31 or 32 years, donating these stuffed animals and offering them to the kids.”

Whaley knows that being in the hospital is a scary time for anyone, especially children.

“We’re not solving their mental or physical scars, but at the end of the day, when their parents go home and they’re in a room that they’re not familiar with and they’re scared, the teddy bear seems to solve the issue like it was when you were a kid and thought there was a monster under the bed,” Whaley said.

There weren’t any patients in the burn unit when FOX 8’s cameras visited the hospital, but Whaley was able to hand-deliver a stuffed animal to a little boy named Blake who wasn’t feeling very well.

Ogre’s Burns for Bears are provided by Whaley’s company Visual Graphics and Installations Sign Company in Mentor. MetroHealth is very grateful for Whaley’s continued support.

Whaley is hopeful this concept will continue to grow in the future.  

“If only one percent of the kids that we’ve helped out over the years does it when they get older, there will be over 600 to 1,000 kids doing it in the future,” Whaley said. “So hopefully that works.”