NCH Neurosurgeon brings “Teddy the Bear” to life with Metal, for pediatric care

Reporter: Jacquelyn Kisic
Published: Updated:

NCH Healthcare system neurosurgeon Dr. Mark B. Gerber, MD spends his days saving peoples lives in the operating room, creates metal art on the weekends.

Ending the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Gerber and his son learned how to weld as a form of bonding.

Dr. Gerber learned how to weld by watching YouTube videos, and has created all different types of creatures.

“It’s a lot like operating. It’s very meticulous,” said Dr. Gerber “It’s very slow. It’s very controlled.”

One project, the biggest Dr. Gerber has ever made, is a several hundred-pound metal bear named “Teddy the Bear.”

The bear took six months to make standing around 3 feet tall, made with solid metal inside and out, along with his set of golf clubs.

Finished "Teddy the Bear" at auction
CREDIT: NCH Healthcare System

“My favorite time to start is 2 a.m. on Saturdays,” said Gerber “It’s so peaceful outside and with some country music in the background, it’s the perfect time to relax and have some downtime.”

According to Dr. Gerber, he uses repurposed hospital operating room equipment that can no longer be used on patients to use for his sculptures.

“Most of the fingers for all my monsters are these pieces cut up and re-welded together and I’m working on this piece,” said Gerber “It’s all orthopedic hardware handles from things have broken.”

For more than 65 years, philanthropic support has made NCH grow from a small nonprofit 50-bed hospital to a nationally recognized 716-bed, two-hospital healthcare system.

The healthcare system just held its “Frosted Masquerade Affair,” collaborating with Jack Nicklaus Childrens Hospital with a few weeks ago. The ball featured “Teddy the Bear” as one of their main auction items.

According to CEO-President of NCH, Paul Hiltz MHA FACHE, he said the ball raised more than $3 million towards pediatric care.

“Specifically, really working on getting pediatric subspecialties,” says Hiltz, “So that kids can stay closer to their home to be taken care of.”

“Teddy the Bear” was auctioned off for $130,000 bought by Jack Nicklaus Children’s Hospital but was donated back to NCH.

Read the full statement below from Jack Nicklaus Childrens Hospital:

“Teddy the Bear” is a true symbol of the deeply held commitment both NCH and Nicklaus Children’s have to the Collier County community,” said Dr. Saima Aftab, chief strategy officer of Nicklaus Children’s Health System and Neonatologist.  “It is such an honor to partner with NCH to enhance care and ensure the children of Collier County have access to world-renowned care right here at home.  “Teddy the Bear” not only represents our collaboration, it is a reminder to all of us of the innocence and tenderness of the young lives we will touch today and for generations to come. 

Dr. Mark Gerber and CEO of Jack Nicklaus, Matt Love with "Teddy the Bear"

Dr. Gerber tells WINK News that he would like to continue creating more animals and creatures for other charities in Southwest Florida for children.

“Teddy the Bear” will be located at NCH North Naples Hospital, off Immokalee Road. He’ll placed at the facility within the next couple of weeks.

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