Dr. Bear, the National Children’s Medical Center mascot, has always comforted young patients. Now his bright, endearing presence raises spirits and funds across the Washington, DC, metro area for the Children’s Hospital Foundation (CHF)—with creative help from Goodbeast and friends.
In 2018, Goodbeast joined forces with SmithGifford and partners to give CHF’s annual holiday season fundraiser a new spark. In this crowded fundraising season, we worked to make donating fun as well as “feel-good.” Holiday lights inspired the interactive #lightupdrbear campaign to make giving even more rewarding for donors, patients and their families, hospital staff, and the community at large.
The plan: Station hundreds of glowing, toddler-sized bears and donation signage in prominent locations with lots of foot traffic. Enable passers-by to donate via text (text-to-give). Then make Dr. Bear’s inner light blink instantly with each donation. It was an ambitious, irresistible opportunity to connect CHF donors and beneficiaries everywhere in a moment of hope and delight.
Goodbeast built the bears’ electrical system and created custom Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices for their deployment. We also used the Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Core to bring the bears “automagically” to life in shopping centers, festivals, Christmas markets, ice rinks, the I Heart Radio Jingle Ball, and more. Best of all, the bears placed inside Children’s National hospitals lit up the hearts of patients and their families with every donation.
“It’s a really amazing thing for families like ours who spend so much time here to see the bears light up and know people are out there caring and supporting us.”
“You can see the delight on the children’s faces every time a bear lights up or when they hug a bear in the hospital. The experience brightens everyone’s day.”
For the 2019 holiday campaign, sponsored by Amazon, we made the bears brighter, sturdier, easier to maintain, and more flexible for different environments.
In the first year, using 5-volt lights and COTS routers did put limits on the bears’ brightness and location reach. In 2019, we were able to make Dr. Bear twice as bright with higher-density LEDs and reached a more extensive area thanks to a ruggedized m2m WAN.
New DMX weatherproof LED lighting tubes made Dr. Bear four times brighter, with a single-board microcontroller running custom firmware that synchronizes with AWS IoT Core. And ruggedized industrial-grade routers enabled a machine-to-machine WAN that kept Dr. Bear bright 24/7. Three hundred bears appeared in prominent locations like CityCenter, The Wharf in DC, Bethesda Row, Pike & Rose in Rockville, Reston Town Center, Pentagon Row in Virginia, and of course, Children’s National hospitals.