Social media can bring out the worst in people. But it can also bring out the best, as it did last week when it helped reunite 5-year-old Aiden Remme with his beloved teddy bear, Tedz. Aiden's furry friend has been with him through every step of his treatment for a brain tumor at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. So when Tedz went missing after Aiden's 60th chemotherapy session, Aiden's mom, Tracy Remme, launched a bear hunt that included phone calls, a letter to the editor and eventually, a virtual "lost poster" on Facebook. "If you live in Rochester area please share," Tracy wrote, accompanied by a photo of Tedz. "We have done everything else but this … It may sound crazy but this teddy is a rather big deal … this teddy means the world to him."
Tracy's message didn't sound crazy to the many, many (many) people who saw and reposted it, including numerous Mayo Clinic staff members who were eager to help find Tedz. Local media picked up the story as well, and Rochester's KTTC-TV and Post-Bulletin, among others, carried pictures of Tedz.
Scott Gulbranson, an electronic technician at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, didn't actually see the Facebook post. But a friend texted him a picture of the bear. Scott then "did what anyone would have done," he says, and joined the search. He started at a nearby lost and found, which, as fate would have it, was where Tedz was resting comfortably. "I showed them the photo of Tedz, and they had him," Scott says. He quickly got in touch with Tracy to share the good news, and then (ahem) bearbysat until an acquaintance of the Remme family arrived to pick Tedz up and escort him back home (in an unmarked police vehicle, no less).
Because Scott, a parent himself, understood how important the bear was to Aiden, he tells us he "sent Tracy updates throughout the day so she could let Aiden know what Tedz was doing, kind of like Flat Stanley." Scott let Aiden know when Tedz had lunch, and even sent a photo of Tedz catching up on the latest Mayo Clinic news online. (That's a bear with good taste.)
Finding Tedz may seem like something of a miracle. But the real miracle, Tracy and her husband, Chris, say, is the care their son has received from a team that includes David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon, and Amulya Nageswara Rao, M.B.B.S., a pediatric oncologist. "Aiden had a supposedly inoperable tumor, right in the middle of his brain," Tracy tells us. "But Dr. Daniels got a little over 50 percent out." That surgery "did wonders" for Aiden, she says. "He's more like a kid again."
Though Aiden has more treatments ahead, the Remmes say they're grateful for victories like that one. And on Feb. 23 — the one-year anniversary of Aiden's diagnosis — they took time to acknowledge those victories. "We called it 'celebration day,' and had a fun family day to celebrate the last year and making it through it," Tracy tells us. "On a day that could have easily been a hard one we chose to celebrate life and the doctors that help give it to him."
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