Fergie Jenkins stopped in Ridgetown last Thursday, June 8, to meet Amanda Brown and gift her with one of his bobbleheads as he heard she collected them. Amanda, in turn, presented Fergie with one of her handmade Ridgetown Bears. Photo by The Ridgetown Independent News

Amanda Brown is usually the one who spreads joy to others with her Loads of Love and other charitable organizations’ knitted hats and teddy bears.

The tables were turned when a Cub spread a little joy to Amanda.

The 28-year-old developmentally delayed woman was at her usual spot in the Ridgetown Independent News office on Thursday morning, working on one of her knitted projects, when a couple of visitors walked in.

Amanda knew Darrin Canniff, as she had recently made a special teddy “Mayor Bear” for the Chatham-Kent mayor.

She didn’t recognize the second gentleman – although the rest of the staff and visitors did, as they were all in awe.

“How are you doing, young lady? I’m Ferguson,” he said.

It was Ferguson, as in Fergie Jenkins, the Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher, who was back home to unveil his statue at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre in a ceremony on Saturday.

He heard Amanda was heavy into creating things for charities and collected bobbleheads.

“I know you do a lot of nice work, so I have a bobblehead just for you,” Jenkins said as he presented Amanda with an autographed version of one of the metal bobbleheads that have been created for him since he retired from the Chicago Cubs in 1983.

“Thank you!” Amanda said as her smile lit up the office, and her mother quietly shed tears of pride in the corner while her father beamed.

Amanda, in turn, gave Fergie a special “Welcome to Ridgetown” knitted bear and hat, which he greatly appreciated, and even tried on the homemade hat so she could see it on him.

“You made all these bears?” he asked as he looked at the collection in the office.

“That’s great!” he said with a huge smile.

Amanda showed Fergie how she uses a special hand-operated loom that makes it easier than traditional knitting to create her projects.

Ferguson looked over at all the Winnie the Poohs, Piglets and other bears she had displayed and told Amanda that his grandson would love to see those Winnie the Poohs.

“Wow, that’s a big one,” Fergie said as Amanda handed him the bear for his grandson. “He is going to love this …. thank you, thank you, very much.”

Before Jenkins left, he signed one of Amanda’s bears for her and a “Welcome to Ridgetown” poster the office had made, knowing he was coming. Councillor John Wright, who was there that morning, took the signed poster down to Mitton’s Jewellers, who will display it for a couple of weeks so everyone can see it.

Jenkins was making personal appearances around Chatham-Kent on Thursday, visiting mainly sponsors of the statue and civic ceremony with Canniff and other committee members.

“I told Fergie, let’s drive to Ridgetown. There’s a special lady that you have to meet,” Canniff said. “We called up (the Independent office), and she was there, so we went out, and Fergie was happy we did.”

Canniff recently heard how Amanda had knitted over 800 hats sent to Ukraine through Loads of Love for children in the war-torn nation. She has also made hundreds of hats and now makes teddy bears for charities.

The mayor stopped in to see Amanda, who was so impressed she created a special ‘Mayor Bear’ for him.

“He stopped to see me, and he was so kind,” Amanda said of the mayor, who was happy she could hug him as that is how Amanda expresses her words to say she likes someone; she hugs them (she also got to hug Fergie too!).

East Kent Councillor John Wright presented Canniff, the bear, at the June 5 Council meeting.

“It is important to note that Ridgetown and area residents have donated all the wool used to make the winter hats,” said Wright, who recently made a large donation, while fellow East Kent Councillor Steve Pinsonneault donated some of the stuffing for Amanda to make her bears.

“Amanda hopes the Mayor enjoys his bear,” Wright said at the council meeting.

Canniff expressed his thanks during Thursday’s visit but was questioned by Amanda about where the bear was as she didn’t see him take it home that night after council.

“It’s been in my bed the last couple of nights; even our cat is sleeping beside it,” Canniff smiled as he told Amanda where the bear was.

“You are an inspiration to a lot of people in Chatham-Kent, so keep up the great work,” he ended.

Amanda said she couldn’t wait to tell Connie Barnwell, her helper who taught her how to make the bears and hats, and her Community Living Chatham-Kent “Making It Happen” group friends about all that had happened that week.

By Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 12, 2023 at 13:08

This item reprinted with permission from   The Independent News   Ridgetown, Ontario
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated