HINESVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) – It was an emotional weekend at the Deputy Sheldon Whiteman Academy as his family was presented with four teddy bears made from his uniform.

The Long County Sheriff’s Office deputy died in January 2020 during a high-speed chase when he lost control of his cruiser and hit several trees. Whiteman was 44.

When the Blue Line Bears organization heard about the tragedy, they knew immediately how they could help.

The nonprofit takes uniforms donated by the families of fallen officers and handcrafts them into a special bear for family members at no expense to them.

Organizers say the bears provide a tangible reminder that their loved ones will always be by their side.

“It’s always amazing when we have the opportunity to deliver bears personally to the families because we make that connection and we’re able to give back a piece of their hero,” said Executive Director Ray Schwabe. “It just is very rewarding. I’ve done this several times and it still never gets any easier for me because I’m giving the Whiteman family a piece of Sheldon back today.”

According to Blue Line Bears, donations and other contributions cover the cost of materials and shipping.