A legacy of love, comfort, connection
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- In March of 2007, the lives of the Eades' family were tragically changed forever. Their beautiful 6-month-old daughter, Jenna Lynne, was fatally injured and their oldest daughter, Hayley, was critically injured when a truck violently rear-ended the vehicle they were riding in.
Hayley miraculously survived her injuries, but the impact was too much for little Jenna. Jenna's parents always called her 'Jennabear', and this inspired them to name this organization the Jennabears Foundation©.
The foundation, founded by one of the Wolf Pack's very own Tech. Sgt. William Eades, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight line expediter, is dedicated to help families and children in their time of need.
"During our hospital stay, we noticed many children who were hurt and scared, yet, had nothing to comfort them - at times, not even a parent," said Eades. "Six weeks later, we brought the bears Hayley received during her stay to those children... they loved them!"
The foundation provides these cuddly sources of comfort to those needing it most, no matter what the cause of their pain.
"Whether it is a child who was seriously hurt in a car crash, a child battling cancer, or a parent who loses a child, we give them a Jennabear for comfort," said Eades. "Our Jennabear's are super soft, big and meet hospital criteria for infection control."
The foundation also delivers Jennabear Trauma Baskets to the older children including a Jennabear and other various items such as portable cd players, DVDs, puzzles, games and more.
"Current and ongoing projects include an operation wish-list where the foundation will bring the necessities, like toiletries, to parents in hospitals while their child is under care," said Eades. "We also adopt seven city-of-Surprise streets for clean-up by Team Jennabears, conduct a Jenna's Bedtime Reading Center, and have a Jennabears wagon station where children can take a trip around the hospital."
While this foundation receives plenty of support from volunteers in the U.S., the 8th AMXS is also very involved with the charity.
"It is important to us to support this charity because Tech. Sgt. Eades and his wife faced such a horrible tragedy - yet they turned it into a something positive: a legacy for Jenna," said Senior Master Sgt. Seth Rector, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. "Her name and memory live on through this foundation. It reaches not only military families who may be facing a tragedy, but the entire community since every child in the ICU will be given a bear. I cannot think of any better cause to support."
The feeling is mutual throughout the squadron, with many Airmen taking initiative to support their fellow wingman's foundation.
"We in the 8th AMXS do as much as we can to support Jennabears," said Capt. Anthony Tuero, 35th AMU officer-in-charge. "Every Friday and Saturday night at the AMXS hooch, we place out donation jars for which many people contribute to. You will also see Jennabears patches all over the AMXS jerseys worn by the many supporters in our squadron. There is also a club called the 'Wild Country Boys' within the squadron who have championed Jennabears and will do fundraisers to help out the foundation like back in November when they hosted a big barbeque event."
With support like this, the foundation continues to grow and expand on its capabilities, just like the founders had hoped.
"We hope to become large enough one day to fulfill our goal of building a playground for children with disabilities," said Eades. "But, our whole reason for this foundation will never leave us - it's all about the Jennabears that we will be giving as a symbol of love, comfort, and a connection through our daughter Jenna."