In April of 2014, ICD Fellow Dr. Kevin Beitchman of Texas developed a project he called Spring for a Teddy Bear of Love. He and his wife Linda wanted to do something to help cheer the children at the Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio. The need was something the Beitchmans experienced first-hand. When their son, Joshua, was born prematurely in 1992, he was held in an intensive care incubator for a month, and had to undergo even surgery when he was just 5 days old. They remembered what a difficult time it was for them and how a small teddy bear by the side of the incubator reminded them to be hopeful.
Twenty-two years later, Joshua, now a strong college student has declared that he is going to apply to medical school, to become a doctor himself. This made the Beitchman's aware of how far their son had come from those first few scary weeks of life. They decided they wanted to give something back to Methodist Children’s Hospital, and to their patients, where their son was cared for years ago. Dr. Beitchman knew what it was like for his family when they were there and he felt a strong need to bring other parents and their children hope because he and his wife had experienced that anxiety.
Dr. Beitchman got together with his staff, and organized other dentists in the area, to make custom teddy bears for the children at the hospital. He and his staff then gave the finished teddy bears to children in the cancer ward, intensive care unit, and emergency ward. On one day in April of 2014, they personally handed out fifty-eight bears. In 2015, the second year, the program gained momentum. Their office worked with forty-five classes in three local elementary schools, engaging their students to build bears for the project, and energized even more dentists to sponsor and participate. More than fifty dentists and their staffs helped the program succeed. In April of 2015, a hundred and twenty bears were made, and every single child at Methodist Children’s Hospital received a custom-made, hand-delivered teddy bear. The Spring for a Teddy Bear of Love program continued to grow and in April of 2016 a hundred and fifty-five custom made bears were given to every child in the hospital as well as in the hospital’s outpatient cancer clinic.
This year, on May 3, they again returned to Methodist Children’s Hospital and, with the generosity of more than fifty dentists, three elementary schools, and numerous patients and friends, Beitchman Orthodontics distributed a hundred and ninety custom-made bears to every child in the hospital and cancer clinic, as well as bears to greet new patients over the coming week as they checked into the Children’s Hospital. Caitlin, a Child Life Specialist who works at the hospital and has helped us organize and distribute the bears each year, told Dr. Beitchman that their visit to Methodist children’s Hospital is “the best day of the year.”
Dr. Beitchman says, “It is almost impossible to put into words the happiness we all derive when handing out these teddy bears, seeing children in their hospital beds suddenly break out in the biggest grins when we present them with these bears and ask if they can take care of them! More rewarding, is seeing their distraught parents who sit bedside, for a few moments, lose their sense of worry and stress as they see their child, at least for a little while, forget all the tubes and medicines and experience a little bit of joy in their life. It is in moments like these, that we all recognize that it is so much more fulfilling when we are of service to others.”
Post Script – Joshua has been accepted into the incoming freshman class at the Texas Long School of Medicine in San Antonio. It is directly across the street from the Methodist Children’s Hospital where he was born!
Submitted by: Dr. Beitchman