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Foundation Features Digest

Upcoming Events

Down the Stretch to Derby Day 2013

In February 1982, Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd invited a group of young adults to a gathering at the hospital. Many were the children of Shepherd donors, and Alana wanted their advice on how to broaden the Center’s base of support.

So she gave them an assignment: Come up with a new way to raise money for Shepherd Center. From that mission came Derby Day, Shepherd’s first, and now one of the most venerable, fundraising events.

As for the young adults who shaped the idea, they came to form Shepherd’s Junior Committee, which brings a younger generation’s energy and perspective to building support for the hospital.

Sara and Donnie Chapman of Atlanta were among the organizers of Shepherd Center’s first Derby Day more than 30 years ago. Now, their daughter Catherine Skeen, right, is co-chairing the 2013 event. Photo by Louie Favorite

Sara Chapman, who began volunteering at Shepherd when it was still in its infancy and now serves on the Center’s Board of Directors, was one of the people at the 1982 meeting. “We came up with the Derby Day idea in February and pulled it together by the first Saturday in May,” says Sara, who was one of the organizers of the inaugural event.

Now, 31 years later, Sara’s daughter, Catherine Skeen, is following in her mother’s footsteps by co-chairing the 2013 Derby Day event, to be held on May 4 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Ga.

“Shepherd Center has always been a part of my life,” Catherine says. “Because of my mother’s involvement, I practically grew up there. After I graduated from college, I was eager to jump in and join the Junior Committee.”

Derby Day has been called Atlanta’s biggest Kentucky Derby-themed fundraising event. The scenic meadows of the Horse Park are transformed into a festive compound of tents and televisions – perfectly optimized for viewing the nation’s most iconic horse race.

Attendees at the 2013 Derby Day will enjoy live music from popular Atlanta band The Breakfast Club, a traditional southern menu, open bar, and both a live and silent auction. Auction items include tickets to University of Georgia football games, Stella & Dot jewelry, gift certificates to local restaurants, trips, beach home rentals and clothing. Buses leave Buckhead starting at 2 p.m. and run continuously back and forth until 9 p.m. Tickets are $60 and are available online at or at the gate on event day.

“We are excited to be putting on Atlanta’s premier spring social event,” says Wesley Snapp, Catherine’s Derby Day co-chair. “But most importantly, we want to raise much-needed funds for the Recreation Therapy Department at Shepherd Center.”

Recreation therapy, which will be the recipient of Derby Day 2013 proceeds, helps patients get back into the community by taking them on outings, teaching leisure skills and developing other skills needed in everyday life. It’s the largest department of its kind in the country.

“We help them to do things they did before, but we also open their eyes to other opportunities and perhaps expose them to things they may never have done,” says Kelly Edens, manager of recreation therapy. “We build the skills and establish a whole routine before they leave the hospital.”

The size and breadth of the Recreation Therapy Department is one aspect of Shepherd Center that inspires Sara when she considers what Shepherd was 30 years ago.

“It excites me to drive by the Center today and to see the size of the campus,” she says. “Being a part of Shepherd for so many years and watching it grow into what it is today has been an amazing and very fulfilling experience. I am so proud to be involved with a hospital that constantly strives to be the best in its field and I am elated that Catherine is continuing our family tradition!”

“My goal is to make this the best Derby Day yet,” Catherine says. “I want people my age in Atlanta to know more about this amazing facility that we are lucky to have in our city. This event is the perfect way to support the patients, doctors and staff at Shepherd Center, and I hope everyone will come out to the Horse Park in Conyers on May 4th!”

Planning for The Legendary Party 2013 Kicks Off with Luncheon

The Legendary Party Kickoff Luncheon is an annual event in which the ball chairmen announce their theme and introduce their vision for the premiere Shepherd Center fundraising event that takes place each November. Held at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead on Feb. 27, this year’s Kickoff Luncheon was well attended by The Legendary Party Committee and past Legendary Chairmen and Honorees, who were thrilled to hear this year’s theme will look into the future.

Karen Spiegel, 2013 Legendary Party Chairman, announced that “The Future is Now” will be the theme for what promises to be a most remarkable Legendary evening. Karen hopes to emphasize all of the great therapeutic and technological advances available to improve Shepherd Center patients’ lives. These advances range from the hospital’s therapy dogs to a new assistive technology device that helps some wheelchair users stand and walk on their own.

The presentation started with a welcome and invocation from Ty Tippett, the Shepherd Center Foundation’s Senior Director of Planned Giving. Erwin Shinnerl, the General Manager of the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead gave a brief welcome and Dean Melcher, Director of Development Operations, spoke about the role of The Legendary Party and how essential it is to Shepherd Center’s fundraising efforts. Dean also introduced Karen.

She, in turn, introduced Cecilia Wright, who is serving as Chairman-Elect and will be helping Karen plan and organize this year’s gala. Karen recognized this year’s Honorary Chairmen – Sally and McKee Nunnally. They have been dedicated supporters of Shepherd Center for many years and currently serve on the hospital’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, respectively.

At the Kickoff, The Ritz-Carlton provided an exquisite lunch that displayed the talents of the hotel’s internationally acclaimed chef. Diners enjoyed a delicious white asparagus cream with ricotta and lemon tortellini and basil leaves, roasted Tanglewood chicken breast, and couscous pastilla with baby vegetables and Sicilian olive oil. Dessert was a delectable lemon meringue with lemon cream, crispy meringue, strawberry sorbet and Hibiscus gelée.

Proceeds from The Legendary Party 2013 will support Shepherd Center’s Assistive Technology Center, which provides the technologies and tools to improve patients’ safety, independence and quality of life.

For information about The Legendary Party, contact Florina Newcomb at 404-350-7302 or, or visit

Event Report

Football Fans Celebrate in Style at the Big Game Bash 2013

Shepherd Center Society’s fifth annual Big Game Bash was once again a big hit. More than 160 Shepherd Center Society (SCS) members and their friends watched the Ravens take on the 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 3, at the Bobby Jones Golf Club.

The first event on the SCS calendar, Big Game Bash serves as a membership drive for the volunteer and networking group that is growing every year. In fact, last year, 255 SCS members raised more than $50,000 for Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative. This year is shaping up to be even bigger with a new and excited Executive Committee lead by Chairs Anne Pearce Worrell and Ryan Hoyt. They want to increase membership and sponsorships, and to establish SCS as a leading young adult volunteer and networking group in Atlanta.

This year’s Big Game Bash was a success in large part because of the efforts of Membership Chairs McQueen Calvert and Meredith Hill and Beverages Chair DuVall Brumby. The three worked together to organize the event, obtain food and drink donations, and to make sure registration ran smoothly.

The event’s sponsors made the Bash a hit by providing food, drinks and entertainment. For the fifth year in a row, Sunbelt Technology graciously donated flat-screen televisions, a large projection screen and their time to set up and take down the equipment. Sunbelt provided SCS partygoers with an outstanding football experience. A huge assortment of delicious tailgating food and drinks was provided by food sponsors Chick-fil-A, Ted’s Montana Grill, Zoe’s Kitchen, Café at Pharr, Panera Bread, Zaxby’s, Firehouse Subs, Seasons 52, Anne Pearce Worrell, Caja Popcorn and Willy’s Mexicana Grill.

No matter the outcome of the game, Big Game Bash has always come out a winner, and this year was no exception. Thanks go to all of the Executive Committee members, who worked hard to make this event successful. They include Chairs McQueen Calvert and Meredith Hill and committee member John Terry. Also, thanks go to the SCS Executive Committee members who helped with the event. They are SCS Chairs Anne Pearce Worrell and Ryan Hoyt, Beverage Chair DuVall Brumby, PR Chair Caroline Harrell, Social Chairs Gena Bryant and Katie Mingo, and Summer in the City Chairs Kari Carlos and Kimbrough and Lee Haverstock.

For more information on Shepherd Center Society, please contact Florina Newcomb at 404-350-7302,, or visit

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.