Teddy bear effort embodies character of slain deputy

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. Tears streamed down Norma Lewis’ cheeks as she touched one of the last shirts her son wore.

The shirt took on a new form – a teddy bear.

But the memories of her son, and the pain from his death, remained the same.

Norman Lewis, a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was killed on Jan. 9 when his motorcycle was hit by a vehicle. Lewis, a 11-year veteran, was responding to a massive manhunt in search of the person who shot and killed Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton.

“The emotions are very high,” Norma Lewis said after receiving her bear on Monday. “I can’t even in words express our gratitude and the love she put in to make this bear. Norman touched many lives cause that’s what Norm did. Although he is not here with us, he is still with us. This is a bear we will always cherish.”

An emotional delivery

The dark green teddy bear, with a sheriff’s office patch on its back, a master officer insignia on its left shoulder, a commemorative badge with Lewis’ last name on its chest and a blue ribbon tied around its neck, was a gift from Megan O’Grady.

The 14-year-old Cape Coral teenager started Blue Line Bears in January to help the children of slain law enforcement officers heal from the loss of their loved ones.

Megan, the daughter of a law enforcement officer, described the making of each bear as an emotional experience.

She also shed a few tears during Monday’s delivery. Norman Lewis’ parents and four-year-old goddaughter each received a bear.

“His mom was just so sweet,” she said. “I could tell she was extremely grateful. She was telling all these stories about how amazing he was. That was extremely emotional for me.”

Norma Lewis saw the bear as an embodiment of who her son was – bringing joy and helping others.

“Word’s can’t even express, this is just the beginning of Megan’s journey doing what Norman wants us to do,” she said. “No matter how small you think it is, do it. That’s what Norman was all about.”

She couldn’t stop staring at her bear.

“Me and dad will always have a part of him,” she said. “This is special to us.”

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