Kenneth (’04) and Amy (’06) Tice recently brought 2,700 teddy bears to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth as part of their annual donation efforts, which is in memory of their first son, who passed away in 2011 at just five days old after his premature birth.
The Tices donate bears each year to Cook Children’s PrayerBear Ministry right around Carter’s birthday. But this year, five years after losing Carter, they decided to do something special – donate 500 bears. That led Kenneth and Amy to put together a fundraising event that they named “Cuddles From Carter.” The fundraiser far exceeded the couple’s expectations, providing the Tices with the money to purchase more than 2,000 additional bears than they had expected to donate.
“The outreach stretches across the United States,” Kenneth said. “[Cuddles From Carter] started with our friends and family, and then traveled by word of mouth. Our biggest donation came from Pennsylvania [from] a donor who wrote us a check for $2,500, which paid for our original goal of 500 bears. They did it right up front so then we had to reassess our goals.”
Though the Tices are thrilled with the efforts of this year’s fundraiser and hope to see an even larger increase in bear donations over the next few years, they don’t want to lose focus on the original goal of “Cuddles From Carter”: donating bears in memory of their son’s life.
“We’ve been looking at turning it into an official organization, but we’re having to balance because there is cost and overhead associated with that,” Kenneth said. “Our goal is never to run a business, because we want every penny to go to help the hospital.”
The couple’s two children, Cooper (age 4) and Kaley (age 2), were excited about an opportunity to collect teddy bears and give them to kids in need.
“Cooper calls it the ‘bear party.’ He got so excited the morning we were going to take them to the hospital,” Amy said. “He wanted to give them all hugs. About a week after we took them, he said, ‘Okay, Mom, we’re going to do that again!’”
As Baylor Bears, the bear holds multiple precious meanings for the Tice family. Before Carter’s birth, Kenneth and Amy had decorated his nursery entirely in bears. And when Cooper was born seven weeks prematurely, he was taken to the NICU at Cook Children’s and was a recipient of a PrayerBear himself.
“The day that Carter passed away, we knew we wanted his life to count for something,” Amy said. “We’ve continued to push for that and have gotten extremely positive responses so far through ‘Cuddles From Carter’.”
How did the two of you meet?
A: I was in a community group and Kenneth’s roommate was my leader. It was my freshman year, and our whole group was watching a baseball game. Kenneth was there and I didn’t recognize him, but he knew we had a class together and he asked me to study. And the rest is history!
What was your defining Baylor experience?
A: I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career and I had a really good professor who helped show me the right path for me. I was a business major and had one class in the HR program where I did really well, and that has been my career for the last 10 years. Without Baylor and the last 10 years working in this field, I don’t know that I would have figured that out.
K: Taking Blaine McCormick’s negotiation class. Amy laughs because he handed out this bumper sticker that said “Friends don’t let friends meet in the middle” and that one phrase shaped my entire outlook on the business world. Everything I do now, from business to finances, I have to negotiate and he taught me how to do that. (Editor’s Note: Professor McCormick is chair of the Hankamer Business School’s Department of Management).
What’s something not on your resume?
A: I am a mom to two kids here and one angel in heaven. That drives a lot of my decisions and how I lead my life, because it’s definitely changed my perception of things.
K: Everything that’s important. To me, work is just a job, and what’s important is my family and friends, and things like Cuddles From Carter. In short, the answer is the stuff not on my resume is what’s important.
What’s your superpower?
A: All my coworkers call me “The Vault” because of my ability to recall anything and remember any information on the spot. They like to call me into meetings and test my abilities on that.
K: I guess mine would be attention to detail and organization-ability. I’m the one who plans our vacation itineraries and everyone tells me I should have been a wedding planner.
What’s your approach to saying ‘no’?
A: “No” is always hard. If it’s after work hours and on the weekends, it’s more of a rule that my family comes first. We’ve made that pretty apparent and it makes the “no” a little easier.
K: I don’t have a good answer because my approach is just to say “no”! If you don’t take care of yourself, some things are going to suffer, and first, it’s going to be your friends and family.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: Right after college, my first manager told me: “Don’t try to turn your weaknesses into your strengths.” The reality of that was: don’t try to be really good at everything. You’ve been given talents, but know that you’re always a work in progress. You’ve been given different skills and strengths for a reason. That resonates in every aspect of my life, and it helps with knowing when to get upset about some things and focus more on other things.
K: I had a baseball coach back in high school who said: “Control what you can control,” and that was obviously big when we had our first son, and there was so much in that situation that we couldn’t control. If we had tried to control those things, it would have eaten us alive.
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
A: I have one on my desk, Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It reminds me that you really have to take advantage of each and every day.
K: More recently mine has become Matthew 19:14, because it ties our story. “Let the little children come to me and don’t hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The kingdom of heaven is built for children, and it reminds me to be more like a child and not so much like a stubborn adult.
What’s your favorite spot on the Baylor campus?
A: Mine was and still is the swings. I’ve gone [to campus] a couple times since I’ve graduated to sit on the swings, and it’s peaceful and calm and you can see the beauty of the university in everything going on around you. I’ve had many conversations on those swings.
K: My favorite spot is NOT the swings. (Amy laughs.) Not when it’s either snowing or 100 degrees in Texas weather. My favorite spot is Kaiser Auditorium in the Hankamer School of Business. That was my first business class, and that was the class I had with Amy and the class that started everything off for me.
Get to Know is a regular feature that highlights Baylor alumni who are making a difference. If you know someone who deserves to be introduced to the Baylor Family, please send us a note to BaylorLine@BaylorAlumniAssociation.com.
By M. Elizabeth Starr ‘16