By CHIP DAWSON
Retired Navy Captain and Cornelius resident Ted Kramer the other day delivered 108 Teddy Bears to the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital in Concord. The delivery, made on behalf of the Theodore Roosevelt Association (TRA), brought joy to the kids in the 58-bed unit.
Most of the children at the hospital are pediatric neurology patients or are dealing with basic children’s diseases or injuries (significant cancer and cardiology patients are sent to larger hospitals). Ted’s granddaughter, Suzy Watts, who lives with her parents in the New Neighborhood in Old Davidson, recently was a patient at the hospital and helped her grandfather distribute the bears.
The TRA is a national historical society and public service organization. It was chartered in 1919 to perpetuate the memory and legacy of President Roosevelt, the nation’s 26th president. The association preserves sites associated with life and times of Mr. Roosevelt, supports the mission and crew of the U. S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN71), and, since 1986, runs the Teddy’s Bears for Kids program.
More than 75,000 teddy bears have been distributed to hospitalized children across the country. The stuffed bears were inspired by a 1902 political cartoon showing the president refusing to shoot a captured black bear.
SHARING IN THE CAUSE, AND THE NAME
As Paul Harvey would say, “now for the rest of the story.” Captain Kramer’s full name is Theodore R. Kramer, Jr. I asked how he and President Roosevelt happened to have the same first name. Were he and his father, Theodore R. Kramer, Sr. named after the President?
“Yes,” answered Ted. “My grandfather was the head waiter of the Little Hungary Restaurant in New York City where Roosevelt was the guest speaker at the 1902 Republican Day dinner.”
“My grandfather, as the head waiter, escorted him to his seat. On the way, Roosevelt asked him how many children he had and my grandfather (who died in 1904) told him ‘five and one on the way.” Roosevelt said, “Bully! If the one on the way is a boy, please name him after me.” That presidential mandate began a line of Theodore’s in the Kramer family.
Today, Ted’s eldest son, Theodore Roosevelt Kramer III is a naval aviator. (No, he does not serve on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, but he has good friends who do.) Both Ted and his son are trustees on the TRA board.
Ted donates most of the cost of the bears he distributes, but donations to the TRA bear fund are always welcome. To learn more about the TRA and to donate, go to www.trassociation.org. To learn more about the Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital, go to http://www.jeffgordonchildrenshospital.org/.