Shaffers to Chair Hospital Auxiliary's Annual Holiday Ball
BY BRENDA BOUSER
Special to The Pilot
After two knee and two hip replacements as well as back and rotator cuff surgeries, Gene Shaffer is something of a 21st century "bionic man."
This year, he and his wife, Mary Stewart, were asked to serve as chairs of the Moore Regional Hospital Auxiliary's Holiday Ball. They suspect that Gene's experience as an orthopedic patient had a lot to do with it.
"Gene's several successful orthopedic surgeries have taught us the value of rehab and exercise in making a strong recovery," Mary Stewart says.
Proceeds from the Holiday Ball, which will be held from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, in Pinehurst's Carolina Hotel ballroom, will fund the home- and community-like environments of a Rehab Village for Moore Regional's Inpatient Center for Rehabilitation. The therapeutic areas, where patients will be able to practice the skills they need to return to the community and function capably, will include a front porch, grocery store aisle, ATM and restaurant booth, and complement existing inpatient rehab facilities.
"Gene's energy and dedication to the community, especially FirstHealth, led to our approaching him and Mary Stewart about chairing the ball," says Auxiliary Chair Ann Marie Thornton. "We are delighted and honored that they agreed. I do think it's helpful when the chairs have some personal connection or passion for the ball project, and Gene's 'bionic' status and enthusiasm speak volumes for the wonders of joint replacement and a quick return to an active lifestyle."
Although both were born and lived for many years elsewhere, the Shaffers are familiar residents of the Moore County community. Gene moved to the area in 1992, after a long and successful career as an administrator with the YMCA. A Pennsylvania native, he attended Penn State for two years on a football scholarship before choosing to return closer to home and Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.
He majored in business administration, but got his best grades in sociology, which prompted a sociology professor to ask if he'd "ever thought of the YMCA" when it came time to consider a line of work.
Although he says "I didn't know anything about the Y," Shaffer met with representatives of the national organization during a recruiting conference at Penn State.
"The mission of the Y fit me very well," he says. "I'm a strong believer in the development of people."
During his 42 years with the YMCA, Shaffer had a variety of jobs in a variety of places, from Minneapolis to Rochester to Pittsburgh to Newark, before retiring as executive vice president and COO of the YMCA of Greater New York City. He says he stayed with the YMCA for so many years for one reason: the great people he encountered every step of the way.
"Their zeal and passion for the mission is really what counts," he says.
Shaffer has brought the same zeal and passion to his local volunteer work. In addition to a host of other local volunteer roles, Gene has been active with the Foundation of FirstHealth, serving two three-year terms on the Foundation Board and working on the In Love and Service campaign that built Moore Regional's Cancer Center and Patient Tower, the Hospice Foundation's Hospice Challenge and the recently concluded Stepping Stones campaign to build the Reid Heart Center, Hospice House and Hospitality House.
He is also a longtime member of the Foundation's Scroll Society and the CCNC Network.
Unlike her husband, who spent his life in Northern climes before retiring to the South, Mary Stewart Shaffer is a North Carolina girl - born in Lee County, raised in Broadway and educated at Greensboro College and East Carolina University. A teacher who taught in Beaufort and Lee County schools before marrying Gene almost 10 years ago, she retired from Moore County's Pinckney Academy and still substitutes occasionally and works with homebound students.
The Shaffers enjoy spending time with friends, going to the beach and mountains, swimming and playing golf. "We're really not very good," Mary Stewart says of their golf game, "but we try."
They also enjoy spending time with members of their blended family: his two sons, her son and daughter, and her four young granddaughters.
Both say they were honored by the Auxiliary's invitation to serve as ball chairs and are, according to Mary Stewart, encouraging their friends to attend the ball and "give back to the hospital."
Although she grew up and lived for many years in Lee County, Mary Stewart says her family was always oriented to the health care offered by Moore Regional Hospital. That became especially the case after her father developed an illness that remained undiagnosed until he sought care at Moore Regional.
"We are big supporters of the hospital and all it has to offer," she says. "We're impressed by what they do there."
"Mary Stewart and I have been honored to be involved with many worthwhile projects in our community through the years, but being selected by the Auxiliary to chair the 2010 Holiday Ball is truly one of the most honorable invitations we have received," says Gene.
According to the Auxiliary's Thornton, the Shaffers have already helped to get the fundraising for the upcoming ball and the Inpatient Rehab Village project off to a great start. "The Inpatient Rehab Village is a fairly ambitious project for the Auxiliary, a bit more costly than our usual ball projects," she says. "However, the concept of bringing real-life environments to the therapeutic setting was very appealing to us - a perfect combination of making stays at Moore Regional as welcoming as possible and supporting the best technologies and practices in medicine. The new Inpatient Rehab Village is going to be a great asset for our community."
Brenda Bouser works for the corporate communications office of FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
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