(The following photo and story appeared in the Tuesday, August 26, 2003 issue of The St. Albans Messenger)

The Fairfax Fire Department proudly poses with their trophy and a Vermont Teddy Bear - Back row- Jordan Hayes, David Toof, Mike Cain, Ivan Patry (Training Officer), Kyle Magnusson. Front Row- Dean Potter (1st Captain), Justin Hayes (Lieutenant), Matt Gillilan (Assistant Chief), Jim Field (Chief).

SHELBURNE -- Fairfax took home the First Place trophy for Fireman's Muster games, followed by Vergennes and Colchester Center. Essex Junction won first place in the Stretcher Races, which involved an obstacle course and two 6-foot teddy bears on stretchers.

Vermont Fire Fighters and Friend for life Teddy Bears made a huge splash at the 1st Annual Friend for Life Festival at The Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne.

Seven Fire Departments including Monkton, Shelburne, Essex Junction, Colchester Center, Vergennes, Fairfax and Hinesburg competed in four traditional fireman's games. The games consisted of Water Polo, Bucket Brigade, Wet Hose and Midnight Fire Alarm.

In addition to the Fireman's Muster games, festival attendees tried their luck in the "Sink the Celebrities" Dunking Tank, featuring Survivor Kathy O'Brien. Kids and adults ran through a Bunker Bear racecourse competing for teddy bear prizes. And everyone kept an eye to the sky as Friend for Life Teddy Bears parachuted from an airplane from 1000 feet.

All of the proceeds raised at the Friend for Life Festival will help to support the Friend for Life Program. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company launched its Friend for Life Program in September 2002 to more effectively meet the ever-growing need for rescue teddy bears.

Rescue personnel have found that teddy bears provide welcomed on-site and in-transit comfort to children involved in house fires, car crashes, and other traumatic events. In times of crisis, children respond positively to the familiar comfort of a teddy bear.

Although teddy bears are already used on some emergency vehicles, budget constraints limit fire and police stations from carrying sufficient supplies. Typically, the stations must rely on private donations from companies like Vermont Teddy Bear. Founded by the Company and outside donations, Vermont Teddy Bear's Friend for Life Program offers specially designed "Little Hero" Bears to emergency service professionals around the country free of charge.

The Fairfax Fire Department is seen at the left, posing with their trophy and a Vermont Teddy Bear

Henry A. Raymond
August 29, 2003