Man in Heavy Bear Suit Walks 500 Miles to Raise Money for Autism Foundation

From time to time, you’ll see videos of people in silly costumes running a marathon, whether it’s someone dressed as a massive turkey during a Thanksgiving race or donning an elaborate Halloween costume for a harvest run. One man who ran two full marathons dressed as a bear has now taken that costume on the road for a good cause.

Jessy Larios, 33, created his Bearsun character after being inspired by certain Japanese and American cartoons growing up. One of them, the show “Hey Arnold!”, featured a main character with a football-shaped head. Larios always wanted to create a character with a similarly silly head, which ultimately led to Bearsun. His friends helped him create the costume, which he wore during the 2019 and 2020 Los Angeles Marathons. Then he decided to use Bearsun for something even better: charity walks.

PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/IAMBEARSUN

His GoFundMe shares his latest effort, saying, “For this next journey I’ve selected to help raise funds towards the National Foundation of Autism Research. They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of innovative treatment programs and services that improve the quality of life for children with autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). So join me on this next journey! Any donation will help make an impact.”

Larios’ goal of $10,000 had been surpassed by mid-May, reaching over $11,000 just after he finished his nearly 500-mile walk. Throughout the journey, he managed to keep plodding on through 90-plus degree temperatures. He poked fun at the heat with an Instagram post of him lying flat in the desert with the caption, “I’m not dead… I’m just not moving! I’ll see you guys all at the Fabulous Las Vegas aka the FINISH LINE!!!”

PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/IAMBEARSUN

He said he was inspired to walk for autism after several people with loved ones on the spectrum suggested it on his last trek: an April walk from L.A. to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. That helped him raise $17,000 for the Alliance on Mental Illness.

Among those who were happy to see Bearsun dedicate his efforts to autism on this go around were Ashley Gonzales and her daughter, who is on the spectrum. They followed his trip on social media and ran into him near South Point casino.

Gonzalez says, “We wanted her to see that somebody is doing something for autistic awareness.”

Others were impressed that Larios never seems to take off his 25-pound bear head, which is by design. He only eats late at night when few people will see him, and he travels without a crew, sleeping beneath the stars.

Bearsun isn’t done yet. Larios is planning another walk from Los Angeles to New York in July. To follow his journey, check out his Instagram.

PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/IAMBEARSUN
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