Woman with knack for giant gestures brings teddy bears to hundreds after her death


Mary Austin and a Suzie Snuggle Bear

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DENVER -- If you have 200 pounds of anything dropped off in your driveway, it’s likely to create a problem. But when Mary Austin learned she was about to be the recipient of 200 pounds of stuffed teddy bears, she knew her problem was unique.

“I had never had a phone call from a freight company before,” Austin said with a laugh. “If you saw the amount of space I made in the garage, you'd laugh.”

When Austin called the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers about her sudden delivery of 288 Snuggle Bears, she knew who was responsible for the shipment.

"She just made an impact on a lot of people," Austin said.

Austin's daughter Suzie Austin used to share the address where the shipment arrived and she had a knack for giant gestures.

Suzie Austin was a volunteer for the nonprofit Random Acts, which aims “to conquer the world one random act of kindness at a time”, and she regularly helped organize and execute good deeds in Denver.

But around the time Suzie Austin requested the Snuggle Bears to help a local charity, she was faced with an insurmountable problem of her own.

"No pain, no notice, no warning," Mary Austin said. "It turned out that she had pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer and the reason she couldn't stand was a cancer had broken the bone in her thigh."

Before the month was through, the cancer also broke her spirit.

"She looked at me and she said, 'I'm done mom.' She died 20 minutes later," Mary Austin said.

Despite her death, Random Acts followed through with the shipment of teddy bears in Suzie Austin's honor.

“For them to make a gesture was not a surprise,” Mary Austin said. “For them to think I could handle it? Yes, that's a surprise.”

Shortly after Mary Austin reached out, the Problem Solvers learned Suzie Austin intended for the shipment to go to A Precious Child, a local nonprofit that helps disadvantaged and displaced children and families in Colorado.

Within two hours of the initial delivery, A Precious Child arrived at Mary Austin’s driveway to take the bears to their intended destination.

“I would have been heartbroken, so you really saved me,” Mary Austin said. "Oh thank you Jesus."

She wasn’t the only one who was thankful.

"Thank you so much,” said Courtney WIckberg, vice president of programming for A Precious Child. “These are amazing. We're very, very excited. These are going to go so fast."

It’s one of the best problems Mary Austin and the Problem Solvers have encountered.

“There's going to be an awful lot of happy children and that's nice,” Mary Austin said. “Suzie would say, ‘Cool. That's cool. No worries.’"

A Precious Child plans to hand the Snuggle Bears out as part of its birthday gift bags. Mary Austin's only request is that they are referred to as Suzie Snuggle Bears.

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