Ridgewood, NJ, May 18, 2018 — On Wednesday, May 9th, celebrated author and motivational speaker Janine Shepherd captivated an audience of almost 215 women philanthropists at Rockleigh Country Club. Before introducing the speaker, Julie Epstein and Danielle Gaglioti, co-chairs of Women for Health, welcomed guests to the 8th Annual Spring Luncheon and showed a brief video illustrating the impact of the group’s previous gifts to Valley.
Since it was established in 2011, the members of Women for Health have pooled their social and philanthropic resources to support programs and services across Valley Health System. “We began with 30 members,” Ms. Epstein beamed, “and I am proud to say that we now have almost 150 members!”
Audrey Meyers, President and CEO of Valley Health System, then introduced the keynote speaker, a former elite cross-county skier and Olympic hopeful from Australia whose unexpected tragedy was nearly fatal.
Janine Shepherd described the harrowing bike accident she was involved in more than 30 years ago and the massive life-threatening injuries she endured, including a broken neck and back, severe lacerations, and fractured collarbone and ribs. Doctors did not expect Ms. Shepherd to survive, and she was told that she would be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life and would never bear children.
The enraptured crowd heard how through sheer willpower Ms. Shepherd defied the odds. “Do not listen to what people tell you!” she stressed, as she strode confidently across the stage on her own two feet, explaining that she had since given birth to three children.
Not only did Ms. Shepherd teach herself to walk again: she learned to fly. Rebuilding her life by becoming a pilot, and swiftly becoming an aerobatics trainer as a flying instructor, she prevailed. Today Janine travels the globe presenting her inspirational message of “the defiant human spirit.”
“I had to rewire my brain and adopt a different attitude,” she acknowledged. “You cannot cherry-pick the experiences you have.” Shepherd delivered a stimulating talk demonstrating how the power of women’s determination can make one literally fly, or like Women for Health, find ways to improve healthcare for their community.
Since its inception, donations from the Valley Hospital Foundation’s Women for Health have amounted to more than $750,000, but the impact of these gifts cannot be measured. These women’s social and philanthropic contributions assist Valley Health System in providing the best possible healthcare. Each fall, the members gather to hear presentations on three funding opportunities at Valley and then vote to determine which program will receive their collective gift.
As guests departed the luncheon, they were handed a signed copy of the latest of Ms. Shepherd’s books, the newly released memoir Defiant: A Broken Body Is Not a Broken Person.
If you are interested in becoming a member of this unique group of women philanthropists, please contact Sandy Carapezza at 201-291-6300 or [email protected]
Photo Caption: Janine Shepherd and Audrey Meyers, President and CEO of Valley Health System
Janine Shepherd and Audrey Meyers, President and CEO of Valley Health System.