Last month, long-time community leader, philanthropist and Lee Memorial Health System friend John Sheppard donated his 315th pint of blood, earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for most whole blood donated. While this is a wonderful recognition for John, our community and the Lee Memorial Blood Center, it was never John’s intention to seek notoriety. Instead, he agreed to pursue the official record designation in the hopes that his story will inspire others—young and old—to donate blood.
We hope this is true as well, because there is no substitute for real lifesaving blood from healthy human donors. However, we also feel that John Sheppard—through his personal commitment and numerous contributions to our community—is an inspiration to everyone.
John has strong ties to our community—he was born and raised in Fort Myers, graduated from Fort Myers High School and practiced law here for 37 years. His children were born and still reside here. John’s family ties to Fort Myers can be traced back to 1898.
“Life has been good to me, the community has been good to me, and it is important to me that I give back,” John says.
Initially, circumstances compelled John to find ways to give back—a wounded friend, the death of a child and a granddaughter who was treated for cancer.
“My family, friends and I have experienced health issues, scares and tragedies,” John shares. “It is these experiences that have brought to light what is really important in life. I am happy every day to wake up and be here and I want to do what I can to help others.”
John says that he has found that it is the little things that often mean the most, such as a commitment of less than one hour every 56 days to donate blood or the donation of a stuffed animal to a sick child.
“About 12 years ago, I saw a program on television about the impact of stuffed animals—particularly teddy bears—on ill or hospitalized children,” John explains. “My wife, Ellen, and I decided to provide teddy bears to the patients at The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. We provided 700 bears that first year. Through the years, we realized that the bears could help patients of all ages, so we increased the number of bears so other departments and facilities would have them for their patients, too. This year alone, we provided 5,000 teddy bears!”
Through these and many other charitable endeavors, John and Ellen Sheppard are wonderful examples of love, faith, kindness and care. We appreciate all they have done, and continue to do, in support of our health system and our community.
Lee Memorial Health System is blessed with friends like John and Ellen, and more than 10,000 employees and 4,500 volunteers whose commitment to compassionate, respectful, high-quality care is evident every day and night.
If you are interested in finding new ways to help our patients and our health system, contact the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation at 239-343-6950 or click here. Interested in donating blood? Visit the Lee Memorial Health System Blood Center near you or call 239-343-2333.