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Tractor pulls for the little ones are just one of the many family-friendly activities.

Serious fun

One couple's vision to help the kids of St. Jude became an annual weekend of family fun and entertainment, drawing people from three states.

As the name suggests, Huggy Bear Campground aims to create an atmosphere where kids — of all ages — can forget the cares of the world, if only for a while. Their motto: “Where the Fun Never Ends.”

The campground’s owners, Mike and Lorrie Niese, have taken that motto to heart for the benefit of the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

For the last six years, this 120-acre campground in Northwest Ohio has attracted thousands of people for the Huggy Bear Campground Showcase of Bands. To date, the event has raised more than $300,000 for the kids of St. Jude.

The fun at Huggy Bear helps ensure that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

The event sprang from the mind of Mike Niese, who purchased the campground 20 years ago. Mike and Lorrie’s niece, Vicki Otto, is the event coordinator. 


The fundraiser draws people from the tri-state area for a two-day event that features bands performing Friday and Saturday nights, and also includes activities that appeal to all ages.

Past events have included a silent auction, tractor pulls, fishing tournament, cornhole tournament, live auction and bingo. The evening ends with a golf cart giveaway and a $20,000 cash raffle.

I am just completely amazed every year at the generosity of so many people. This event would not happen without the numerous volunteers; people are so willing to help.  Then when it comes to that day, people come ready to spend money for such a great cause.
Vicki Otto, event coordinator of the Huggy Bear Campground annual fundraiser

A highlight of the weekend involves a St. Jude patient sharing their story — the music, auction bidding and bingo shouts are replaced by the sounds of a family talking about the hope and healing offered by St. Jude and made possible by supporters.

Otto said the moment is always moving. At the Huggy Bear Campground, there is a renewed sense of purpose to help St. Jude give kids a chance to return to the places in their lives where the fun never ends.

“After listening to their stories, it just really motivates you to help even more,” Otto said. “These are real families and friends that live close by, and it is awesome to hear how St. Jude has helped them. What a great place.”


Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.

When you donate monthly, your gift means families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

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