South Bend International Airport’s Bears in the Air Program Receives Regional Recognition

South Bend International Airport’s (SBN) Bear’s in the Air program received recognition at the Great Lakes Chapter American Association of Aviation Executives annual conference on August 8, 2015 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The charitable program received the Community Service Award of Excellence and raised $500 to jumpstart this year’s program.

Bears in the Air is a program SBN Executive Director, Mike Daigle, started when he was the airport manager in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, then carried on in Kalispell, Montana and now in South Bend giving teddy bears to local hospitals for children. In the past three years since Daigle has been in South Bend, three area hospitals have received nearly 2,300 teddy bears and the local charitable recipient, the Robert L. Miller, Sr. Veteran’s Center, has received $16,000 as a result of the program. Since the start of the program in LaCrosse, it is estimated that over 18,000 bears have been placed in the arms of children.

“There really is nothing like delivering thousands of teddy bears and seeing the look on a young child’s face when they are presented with one of these bears,” said Daigle. “In addition, homeless veterans are assisted with funding for education, enabling employment and eventually moving into permanent housing. I am humbled and honored to have been recognized for this program. Without the support of our board, staff and my family, the program would not be the success that it is.”

Save the date for the fourth annual Bears in the Air kick-off party to be held at South Bend International Airport on December 4, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. The event is open to the public with an entrance fee of $10 or one newly purchased teddy bear. Guests will mingle inside the terminal enjoying music, hors d’oeuvres, one complimentary beverage from the cash bar, and will be entered into a drawing for door prizes from local businesses to include airline tickets, dinner certificates, overnight hotel stays, tickets to sporting events, golf and more.

About South Bend International Airport

South Bend International Airport’s three air carriers provide nonstop flights to ten cities:  Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York City/Newark, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg with connections world-wide. South Bend International’s multi-modal terminal serves over one million air, rail and bus passengers each year. According to the 2012 Economic Impact Report from the Aviation Authority of Indiana, South Bend International’s total annual economic impact on South Bend and surrounding communities was in excess of $1.7 billion.

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