is a lifelong resident of Oakland County’s Oxford
and Lake Orion
Areas. For over 25 years Gary has made a living out of being a self employed chainsaw sculptor. Creating well over 7,000 commissioned pieces, he is known as the “THE GUY ON BALDWIN ROAD
.” He was diagnosed in April of 2019 at the age of 53 with a bicuspid aortic valve, ascending aortic root aneurysm and coarctation of the aorta
. This was a birth defect that he was never aware of his whole life - until now. Gary’s heart mutated to keep him alive. His heart surgeon informed him when blood flows through a healthy heart it is smooth and regular. When his blood flows through his valve, it is so rapid that his heart has become larger. Because it’s so aggressive, the walls of his heart have thinned over time. Without this life saving surgery, his heart can have a dissection. This means the walls of his heart can tear or burst leaving him to bleed out in minutes. The doctor stated this is a very complex combination of problems that could leave Gary paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of his life. This was all found by a fluke cold that had him coughing so bad that he cracked his sternum. The test that followed found the extent of the challenges he now faces.
On January 27th Gary and his family will be traveling to the Cleveland Clinic
in Ohio where he will undergo open heart surgery by Doctor Patrick Vargo
. Gary will remain at the Cleveland Clinic until February 10.
If you ever had the pleasure to meet Gary, everyone can agree he is one of the most courageous, strong, and giving individuals you have ever met. Gary has had to work hard for everything in life. In 1973 at 6 years old he was diagnosed with dyslexia. From a young age he was forced to look at the world differently, always trying to find new ways to make it through everyday challenges. His father, Larry Elzerman
, was the leader of Troop 186 Boy Scouts out of Lake Orion, MI teaching his two sons how to become Eagle Scouts
. Gary, Brian and sister Judy grew up around the Knights of Columbus always volunteering in events and helping others. He has donated over 400 carvings to different organizations, charities, and everyday people that have impacted his life. To be good to others and give back is what Gary and his wife Paula
live by, instilling these ideas and morals into his two children Connor
. Gary’s artistic career influenced his daughter to start her own form of art with him in which they together have been able to donate multiple pieces as well. In 2006 EDCO Publishing
released “Connor the Carver Carves the Michigan State Symbols
" written by Gary to teach his son Connor that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. This platform gave Gary a speaking opportunity to visit schools and help other kids with disabilities or are being bullied. The best thing about him is his willingness to go out of his way even in dangerous situations. He has received the Citizen of the Year award in 2010 for saving an Oakland County sheriff's life.
Due to Gary’s heart condition, it has been very difficult to make ends meet. Between healthcare, prescription drugs, and out of pocket cost, the strain has already been significant - and the surgery hasn't even begun. This has been a very difficult and emotional roller coaster for the Elzerman family. Gary has no clear future and he does not know if he’ll ever be able to return to sculpting. Your donations, no matter how big or small, can help Gary and the Elzerman family focus on his recovery instead of the severe stress of potentially losing everything. Doctors say this will be a long recovery process and they cannot predict if or when he will be able to return to work.
They have insurance, but as a individual business owner it is not "the Cadillac Plan". Between the co-pays, the hospital stays, the physical therapy and the work loss, the burden on the family will be devastating to the point of financial ruin. We have no way of predicting the financial requirements of what Gary is faced with. We guarantee that not one dime will be spent on anything other than his medical costs and recovery. Any excess, God willing, will be contributed to local charities close to the Elzerman's hearts. We would appreciate you sharing this for our dear friend. Please help the Guy with the Big Heart to get well and return to helping others again!