TMA Foundation Honors Beaumont Physician with “Heart of Gold” Award

May 20, 2024


Neurosurgeon Mark Kubala, MD, says his Christian faith always inspired him to volunteer for, donate to, and participate in the Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF) and the association’s outreach programs to improve and protect people’s health. His decades of service, philanthropy, and leadership have earned him the Texas Medical Association Foundation’s (TMA Foundation’s) highest honor, the Heart of Gold Award.

The foundation presents the award to outstanding individuals who embody a “gold standard” of volunteerism and have made a measurable impact on the foundation’s mission through gifts and leadership. Dr. Kubala is just the third recipient of the honor since its inception in 2005. The TMA Foundation presented the award during TMA’s annual conference.

“I'm very flattered,” said the Beaumont physician, quick to redirect the spotlight from himself to others. “I share this award vicariously with anybody who's done any of TMA’s TMA Foundation-supported programs, or donated money to the TMAF. They are more deserving of this than I am.”

TMA Foundation President Carla Ortique, MD, celebrated the honoree’s special recognition. “The foundation is indeed fortunate to have benefited from the extraordinary contributions and leadership of Dr. Mark Kubala. His decades of advocacy for TMAF have firmly established it as the community face of medicine across the state,” she said.

TMAF funds TMA initiatives that focus on disease prevention, healthier lifestyles, and increasing access to health care. These programs include the Hard Hats for Little Heads bicycle helmet giveaway program for Texas children; Walk with a Doc Texas, part of an international grassroots movement devoted to encouraging healthy physical activity and strengthening patient-physician relationships; TMA’s Vaccines Defend What Matters, a program to provide vaccinations and increase vaccine awareness; and programs to grow and support the physician workforce.

A champion of TMA Foundation for more than three decades, Dr. Kubala had a vision in 1994 of the critically needed physician-led public health programs the foundation could support. Hard Hats for Little Heads was born partly because of his backing. For decades the initiative has allowed physicians and others in the Family of Medicine to host the helmet giveaway events for children and educate them and their parents about the importance of wearing a helmet for every ride to prevent potential serious head injuries from crashes.

“I've always said doctors individually are generally loved and highly respected by their patients,” he said, “and whenever we do public health initiatives, physician benevolence comes forward.” Dr. Kubala has partnered with his local Jefferson County Medical Society to sponsor dozens of Hard Hats for Little Heads events over the years. He enjoys chatting with the children as he fits a shiny new bike helmet on their head, one by one. (He’s quick to praise his county society’s executive director Hillary Shanning for orchestrating the local Hard Hats events.)

As a neurosurgeon who has treated patients’ brain injuries, protecting children from hurting their head in a bicycling or wheeled-sports accident is natural for him to support. He has seen the effects of serious injuries, and he has operated to relieve blood clots in patients’ brains.

“If you have a serious head injury, the brain doesn't regrow like a bone that's broken can,” he said. “[Patients with] serious brain injuries are frequently left with permanent damage. And it's well known that repeated concussions can cause brain dysfunction, so it's better to prevent it than to have to try to treat it.”

While he enjoys hands-on service, Dr. Kubala also has served in several top TMAF leadership roles on the TMA Foundation Board of Trustees from 1994 until 2002 and as the first and third president of the foundation board. He also chaired its development committee. He also helped launch TMAF’s Legacy of Caring Endowment Campaign and its major gifts program and has been a major donor to the foundation over decades of giving, as well.

He described his deep-seated inspiration to serve others through the TMA Foundation and the association’s outreach initiatives.

“I'm a man of faith and I believe we will be judged not by how much money we've made, but by what you have done for our fellow man,” he said. “This has been an opportunity for me… to do that.”

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 57,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.


TMA Contacts:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email:  

Swathi Narayanan (512) 370-1382; cell: (408) 987-1318; email:

Last Updated On

May 20, 2024

Originally Published On

May 20, 2024

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