Sumter Teen Collects Bears In Memory of Friend

8:09 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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Hugh 'Bear' Gibbons

Sumter, SC (WLTX) -- On February 14, 2011, a young Sumter boy lost his battle with a rare liver cancer.

Two years later, a Sumter High School sophomore is keeping his legacy alive, one bear at a time.

"He was a healthy 7-year old, playing baseball one day and then the next he is going through chemo and having surgeries, I can't even imagine," said Tamala Gibbons, mother of Hugh "Bear" Gibbons.

Bear fought hepatoblastoma for about 11-months, before losing the battle with cancer.

Gibbons said, "We found out on March 4th, that it was stage IV and he passed away on Valentine's Day."

It is has now been nearly two years since the military lost Bear and it is still adjusting to the lose.

"Some days it is o.k., other days it is harder," said Gibbons.

Sumter High School sophomore Mary Koty was touched by Bear and decided to start collecting teddy bears in his memory last year.

Koty said, "The way he was around people during his sickness is so inspiring and my brother as a child was very sick, he received a bear from Children's Hope, so I just think every child should get that chance to get a bear."

Koty's goal is to collect 200 new teddy bears by March 1st, with all of the donations going to Palmetto Richland Children's Hospital.

"That hospital has done so much for my brother and my family and for the Gibbons as well, just to know that every kid that goes there gets a bear and to know that one of bears that I gave could be given to them, it is just amazing," said Koty.

Even though nothing can replace her Bear, Gibbons hopes the community will donate teddy bears in memory of him to touch the lives of other sick children.

Gibbons said, "It is important to the kids, the kids need it, they really need it to stay strong."

For more information on the bear drive in memory of Huge "Bear" Gibbons, visit their website at


















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