Hurricane Michael Teddy Bear continues to boost morale 2 years later

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LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB)–Teddy bears are often thought of as timeless and tradition, symbolizing both love and compassion. The Denby family of Lynn Haven can attest to that. The family placed a large teddy bear on their lawn in the days following Hurricane Michael and two years later, it still stands.

If you’ve ever driven down Alexander Lane in Lynn Haven, you’ve probably seen a large teddy-bear.

“Oh, you’re that family with the bear in the front yard? Yeah we are,” says Donna Denby.

The bear that has called the Denby’s front lawn it’s home for exactly 2 years.

“We had done cut the tree back and just set it up there and laughed in the middle of being miserable,” said Randy Denby.

Just hours after Hurricane Michael slammed into the panhandle, Denby trudged through his home and grabbed the life-sized teddy bear that was covered in glass and debris. He placed it on a fallen down tree outside, American flag and all.

“It was a moment when at that time that I wanted to cry, I could laugh,” said Denby.

At the time, Denby says he just wanted to give people a reason to smile amid all the darkness.

“I think to heart for anybody who was here for hurricane Michael, it was a symbol of ‘there is still good’,” said Denby.

Eventually, the teddy bear turned into a landmark. It’s been attracting people from around the community who were also just trying to move forward.

“They love the bears there, every time they come by the house. They go ‘thank you, that bear makes me smile all the time, it makes me feel good, you know during the worst time it made me feel good instead of cry’,” said Denby.

Now, 2 years later, the Denby’s are welcoming a more permanent symbol of hope. The family recently had Chipley chainsaw artist, Chad Gainey, bring their dreams to life.

“What you end up getting to see, is going to be permanently in the corner of my yard as long as we’re alive, and here was his idealism of what that bear was,” said Denby.

The wooden sculpture will soon sit on the Denby’s front lawn, continuing to show people that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It really becomes iconic for us at this point for our family how it affects everybody else will remain to be seen.”

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