A mother, a wife, a nurse, a cook, a cyclist, a friend--and a blood donor. These are just a few roles that describe Stephanie Vesper, who passed away in May of 2019. She was the light in a dark room, a fearless competitor, and the woman who made everyone feel heard.
While her life was cut tragically short, her loved ones hope the community will carry her torch and her passion for others forward.
“I used to think that Stephanie front loaded her life to a fairly alarming extent,” said Nancy Frank, Stephanie’s mother. “The love she had for her kids, her husband, her friends, her nursing, her cooking, her cycling, her chickens, rabbits, bees, garden, pig — she did not hold back.”
A native of Cincinnati, Stephanie had a quick smile and a quick wit, resilient strength and an enduring spirit, which made her uniquely capable for her role as a nurse in the psych unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She was a beloved coworker and employee, and was known for going out of her way to not only make sure her patients were well taken care of, but her peers as well.
“Stephanie was one of the people whose presence I craved to be in. She lit up any room she entered,” said a coworker of Stephanie’s. “She was always so incredibly full of life. She was vibrant and bright and her energy was always positive- everything I wanted to be and more. Stephanie was always there for me, and I knew she had my back.”
Stephanie shared her passions with everyone in her life and was a perfect example of following your dreams and making every day an unforgettable adventure. Whether it was family adventures, 50-mile bike rides or volunteering in the kitchen at her local church, Stephanie did not waste a single minute of her 34 years.
“Steph had a zest for life that was infectious,” her mother, Nancy, remembers.
One of Stephanie’s many passions was blood donation. She believed that blood donation was important so that others could live full and healthy lives, as she did. Stephanie, being a natural born competitor, often challenged her mother in a blood donation speed race.
“Steph used to text me with, ‘I’ve made two appointments for us at Hoxworth on Wednesday, Mom. The blood race is on,’” said Nancy. Stephanie and her mother would compete against each other to see who could donate blood the fastest.
“And she nearly always won,” Nancy added.
Stephanie has donated 33 units of O positive blood in her lifetime, totaling over four gallons of blood that were used to save lives throughout the Tri-State. Her last donation, in January 2019, was used at Good Samaritan Hospital.
“Stephanie believed it was important to donate blood so others could live, and when the UC ER used over sixteen units in a vain attempt to save her life, I knew I would want to give a lot more for a lot longer to make it up,” Nancy says.
On a sunny afternoon in May, Stephanie was fatally injured while cycling with her husband in Warren County. She was flown by AirCare to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the region’s only verified Level I Trauma Center.
The units of blood that were transfused in an effort to save Stephanie’s life were immediately available because of blood donors who previously donated their blood – and made the time to save lives.
“Stephanie would love to be the spark that encourages others to roll up a sleeve—and bring a friend to race with,” says Nancy.
An account has been established at Hoxworth Blood Center in Stephanie’s memory, to help with the blood needs of others. When you donate to Hoxworth, use code PR-1489 when registering, in Stephanie’s memory. Her family hopes others will take the time to donate, while remembering that our lives are linked and we are called to look after one another in small and big ways.