Reunion Honors Former Patients in Florida
ATLANTA - (Jan. 23, 2009) - Shepherd Center held a reunion Jan. 22 for former patients living in the Jacksonville, Fla., area, giving Shepherd an opportunity to honor its alums for their hard work, determination and successful return to their communities.
The event drew more than 100 people to the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. Guests included local medical professionals, community members, Jacksonville news media and Shepherd Center supporters who turned out to help raise awareness throughout the region of Shepherd’s specialized mission and nationwide reach.
Former patients, both those who were recently discharged and some from more than 25 years ago, traveled from throughout Florida and Georgia to attend the event.
Among them was Jacksonville resident JT Townsend, who sustained a spinal cord injury in 2004 in a high school football game. He spoke to reception attendees about his and his family’s decision to travel to Shepherd Center for rehabilitation. JT, who went on to graduate high school and enter college at the University of North Florida, was joined by the doctor who treated him just after his injury.
Dr. Joseph Tepas, chief of pediatric surgery at University of Florida Shands Jacksonville, praised the work of Shepherd Center staff and congratulated JT on his accomplishments.
Suzan Schumacher, a Jacksonville resident and mother-in-law of former Shepherd Center patient Josh Gess, helped organize the reception. She was motivated to get involved after spending time at Shepherd and seeing Josh’s experience.
Also speaking at the reception were Shepherd co-founder James Shepherd and Shepherd Center CEO and President Gary Ulicny. The reception provided the opportunity to introduce guests to Ginger Murphy, Shepherd Center’s admissions liaison for Florida.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.