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Yammy Bear heads to Uvalde on heels of a newly diagnosed illness

Charles Jackson is bringing the Rochester-based bear to provide relief in Texas before undergoing medical treatment himself.

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Yammy Bear out on Second Street Southwest in Rochester.
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ROCHESTER — Rochester’s most famous mascot bear, Yammy Bear, is heading to Uvalde, Texas, to comfort survivors of the recent mass shooting there.

The trip will also provide some comfort for 51-year-old Charles Jackson, who dons the suit as the bear.

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Jackson was diagnosed last week with a rare protein disorder. After spending five days in Texas, he’ll return to Rochester to begin chemotherapy treatment for the illness.

The treatment will also force Jackson to isolate. The support and hugs he hands out in Texas will be a source of strength for him as he begins treatment, he said.

“I’m filling that cup,” Jackson said.

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On May 24, 2022, a man fatally shot 19 students and two teachers and wounded 17 others at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Last month, Charles Jackson and his wife, CarolAnn Jackson, began planning the trip to bring Yammy Bear to Uvalde. A huggable mascot bear could provide some joy and relief for a community still reeling from trauma, CarolAnn Jackson said.

“We call Yammy Bear an emotional support bear,” she said.

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Yammy Bear
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CarolAnn said it appears much of the attention in the aftermath has been in examining the failure of police there to act quicker and not in helping victims and survivors cope with their trauma.

“We found out there isn’t a lot of resources going there,” CarolAnn said. “It’s really died down.”

She said they decided that Charles, as Yammy Bear, could help.

“He knows how to very easily interact with people in various stages of grief,” she said. “There’s something about a giant teddy bear that lifts spirits.”

Even before Charles’ diagnosis, the couple said they knew the trip would be a challenge.

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First there are the costs. So the two are crowdfunding their expenses through Go Fund Me .

They said the support so far has been humbling.

“We’ve had so many small donations,” CarolAnn said. “They have really started to add up.”

There is also the challenge of providing helping hugs while not appearing to be exploiting a tragedy.

“How can we honor their pain, but still respect their need for compassion and joy,” CarolAnn said. “We want to show it’s okay to smile — it’s okay to keep living,”

The two also said they know it will be a difficult trip emotionally.

“This is going to be pretty emotionally trying for us,” CarolAnn said. “It’s going to be a test in remaining that light and support and being a joy and uplift.”

The two acknowledge the diagnosis creates some risk holding events during hot summer days in Texas.

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Charles Jackson (Submitted photo)

Most events will be held in the evening or indoors. Yammy will give out teddy bears to children who attend. They also plan to visit a retirement home. The elderly in the community have also been affected by the events in May, she added.

“If they don’t have grandchildren in the school, they have friends’ children, neighbors’ children, children who work in the school,” CarolAnn said.

On Monday, they will attend July 4th events. The next day, Yammy will hand out hugs and teddy bears at the Church’s Chicken restaurant. On July 6, Yammy will visit an Uvalde retirement home.

Yammy will return to Minnesota July 8.

Chemotherapy will begin July 12. Charles said he expects to be ready.

All the hugs I’ve ever got, that will fortify me,” he said.

Related Topics: ROCHESTERPEOPLE
John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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