12/6 Follow up: Donor comes forward

BOSTON (CBS) — So many times has Jessica Shepherd helped others, says her mother: as a flight crew chief for Marine helicopters in Iraq and more recently at Costal Carolina Community College where she’s been helping veterans get through school and into jobs.

WBZ-TV’s Ron Sanders reports.

Now, Jessica has a rare and aggressive form of esophageal cancer; tumors have fractured her spine and she needs a private flight to Boston for treatment because she could not stand the vibration of a helicopter or a regular commercial flight.

But her mother says insurance won’t cover it and their family can’t afford the flight which could cost nearly $20,000.

Jessica Shelherd with her husband Marine Staff Sgt. Brandon Shepherd and son Keegan (credit: Shepherd family)

“She’d be furious that I’m asking for help for her. She would never ask for help for herself. She’s one of those doers. She goes out and gets it done. But she’s in a hospital bed now,” said Diana Buckley, whose daughter is in a Jacksonville, North Carolina hospital as her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Brandon Shepherd who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is taking care of their four-month-son Keegan.

“She’s my baby. She’s my baby,” said Buckley choking back tears. Jessica’s mother said her daughter, a Lexington High School and Northeastern University graduate, enlisted in the Marines before telling her parents and served from 2003 until 2008, rescuing Hurricane Katrina victims as well as deploying to Iraq.

Her best friend Lauren Floro is reaching out for help to get her treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. “It’s just heartbreaking that money is an issue in it,” said Floro.

Diana Buckley said she thinks about the many times her daughter helped Marine helicopters safely get in and out of danger and darkness and now she hopes someone will do the same for Jessica.

“She’s always been patriotic, loving, loyal to her friends and family and you would expect only the best to come her way,” said Buckley in her Londonderry, New Hampshire home.

The family was in the process of setting up a web site and a fund for people who want to help. Until then, relatives said anyone who wanted to help could send an e-mail to jessicashepherdfund@breakoutpr.com or call 617-942-1560.

Comments (23)
  1. Ingrid Hasselbaum says:

    Try calling Angel Flight NE 1-800-549-9980. They say they fly patients in private planes…worth a phone call for sure. Good Luck,

  2. IRene Simas says:

    Thank you Ingrid! I was just going to say that!!!
    All the best Jessica, and Thank you for your service!
    Gd Bless.

  3. 23 says:

    Thank you for all you have done Jesica, I hope now we can take care of you.
    Try this website, and the best of luck to you and your family.

  4. WillG says:

    You may want to contact Delta Private Jets at Telephone: 800-927-0927 or 859-767-3500
    Fax: 800-456-9984

  5. Raymond Santos says:

    Like the newly created Jessica Shepherd Fund page on Facebook:

  6. M. Rivett says:

    Thank you so much Ray for all your hard work!!!

  7. Manuel Gonzales says:

    Bring her home at the govt expense. We sent her there it is our moral right to make sure she is safely returned and given a right to life treatiment.

  8. April says:

    Jessica cannot wait for the government. She has done so much for our country, yet the fight for them to pay for the flight would take more time than she has. Help Jessica get to Dana Farber, where doctors are ready to help her fight this battle.

    1. Vicky says:

      What about this organization I think it is the best fit considering she is a veteran.

      Air Compassion For Veterans – 888-662-6794
      Provide medically related air transport services to troops, veterans and their immediate family members.

      My father is also battling an aggressive cancer so I understand the situation. He does not need transportation to a distant treatment center but the cancer took a leg and it is VERY hard for us to get him to all his appointments. The Canadian Cancer Society here has helped us a lot. I am a Canadian but I found it online. Hope they help.

      Best wishes.

  9. JD says:

    You should give Mercy Jets in Phoenix a call. They are an Air Ambulance Provider who specialize in working with insurance. They will require an upfront fee, but have a legal and medical team that will advocate for you and reimburse 100% of your costs once insurance payment is received. They’ll even spend time reviewing the insurance policy for you at no charge. They did wonders for my mother and I couldn’t be happier with the service.

  10. M. Rivett says:

    Unfortunately because of the time sensitive nature of Jessica’s case, the agencies have been unable so far to help with a flight. That is why the family is asking for help with donating a plane.

  11. Karen Burke says:

    Has anyone tried to contacy Sen. John Kerry or Sen. Scott Brown??

    Sen. Kerry

    One Bowdoin Square
    Tenth Floor
    Boston, MA 02114
    (617) 565-8519

    Sen. Scott Brown2

    400 JFK Federal Building
    Boston, MA 02203
    Phone: (617) 565-3170
    Fax: (617) 723-7325

  12. M. Rivett says:

    A writing campaign began this weekend through e-mail. Snail mail is too slow.

    As reported by the Jessica Shepherd Fund, they have received enough money for a plane. Now the job is to find transport for Jessica.

    One veteran in this position is one too many. Write or call our lawmakers to tell them about Jessica and let them know that it shouldn’t be such a struggle to get our vets treatment.

    You can help further by going to the http://www.JessicaShepherdFund.org and donating.

  13. I don’t have much money to speak of but, I would be honored to send $20 and a Prayer if I may?
    I’m easily notified on facebook.

  14. Just A Pilot says:

    Visit http://www.pilotsofamerica.com/forum/ if none of your other options work out. We’re not an “official” sort of agency, just a bunch of pilots, many of whom own airplanes. No promises, but we’ve worked things like this out before.

  15. Lisa Burns Pearson says:

    I work with Jessica and am a nurse. She is such a sweet girl. Watched her these last couple of months and want to help if you need me. missokieok@yahoo.com. Contact me if I can help. I am trying to work on the plane and pilot issue myself. Have a friend with a plane and he is a pilot. Just praying God will work on his heart and help Jessica. Lisa Pearson

  16. Check your e-mail says:

    To the gentleman at the PR firm…check your e-mail. I am willing to make this flight, contingent upon weather of course.

  17. Robin Johnson says:

    My wonderful sister-in-law, Laurel Johnson stepped up and will be paying for Jessica to be flown to Dana-Farber. If there was ever an angel on earth, it is her. She lost her husband, my husband’s brother to brain cancer last year on the day after Christmas. There couldn’t be any better gift than this!

  18. Robert D says:

    Bless Ms. Laurel Johnson’s heart for her generosity but it’s hard to understand how our gov’t allows one of its personnel in a combat zone to not be privy to whatever resources are necessary!!! C’mon, I thought we are the United States of America? We abandon someone who is helping solve a crisis? Sad, this is truly sad.

    In my opinion the US Government should pay Ms. Johnson back. It ain’t as if our government doesn’t use its monies wisely for many other things.