Boy, 12, on a Mission to Help Sick Kids, One Homemade Bear at a Time: 'It's Very Emotional'

Campbell Remess is just not a normal kid, his mom says.

While his brothers and sisters are outside running and screaming like banshees, 12-year-old Campbell Remess is holed up in his bedroom.


He never was much of a normal kid, his mother says kindly. If she let him, he would live in front of that sewing machine.

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He is a sensitive soul, with a sensitive heart, and his mother doesn’t want to discourage his creative fingers.

Because what he creates brings real joy to hundreds of children afflicted with serious illnesses, many of them stuck in hospitals and tethered to machines.

He builds bears, painstakingly sewing them from vibrant and comfy piles of fabrics donated to him from all over the world. His creations are designed to emit love and soak up fear.

He came up with the idea about three years ago, when he asked his parents if they could buy Christmas presents for sick kids in the hospital.

Campbell is one of nine children in the family, living in a town in Tasmania, Australia. His parents appreciated his spirit, but they already had plenty of kids to buy for.

So the boy said he’d make something. And then he sat down at the sewing machine. “I said to go for it, but careful of his little fingers,” his mom, Sonya, told Tuesday via email.

“I expected simple little things [but] what he does is incredible.”

Mom and son initially huddled over patterns, trying to figure them out, but it was Campbell, affectionately known as “Bumble,” who ultimately worked it out for himself and has taken his skills to new levels as he sews bear after bear.

The total number of his creations surpasses 800, his mother says.

He mails them around the globe, and takes them to local children’s hospitals, where he hands them out to appreciative little ones who give them names and clutch them tight when undergoing invasive and hurtful procedures such as chemotherapy and radiation.

“It’s a very emotional thing to witness,” his mom says. “It’s a mixture of of excitement, overwhelmed surprise and shock [at] the sheer kindness of a stranger – especially a little boy with such skill.”

Campbell spends up to 14 hours a week at his sewing machine. His mother calls to him to come out and watch a movie with his family, but when their backs are turned, he has been known to sneak downstairs again and get back to making that needle hum.

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He has his own website, Project 365, where the public can see his bears and learn how to make donations of fabric or funds.

He has made one bear that stands above all other others. He called it a “winning” bear and each stich was sewn with love for his dad, who had been diagnosed with cancer. It would fall into remission, only to come roaring back with a vengeance.

“It was a tough night,” Campbell’s mom recalls. “The mood was flat and fear [was] in our house. Bumble came out and sat next to dad.” He brought a new bear and told his father it would help him win against cancer.

And so far, it has. His dad’s cancer has not come back for a year now.

“The child did that,” his mom says. “Bumble changed the entire attitude” in their house, “and I’m sure that same impact is felt on each recipient of each bear he gives.”

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