Local Restauranteur, John Shipp, Embodies the Generosity of Local Community
John Shipp moved around a great deal of his adult life; from Colorado to the West Coast and back again to the Rockies. But, once he decided to make Eagle County his home, he embraced the valley with a passion - not only creating businesses that have become area favorites and raising a family, but also proactively supporting the very things that he believes make this community so great.
"My obligation as a business owner is to try to give back to the community," states Shipp, owner of the Dusty Boots and Luigi's restaurants. Most recently he made significant contributions to Vail Valley Medical Center's cancer treatment programs through Shaw Regional Cancer Center's "Get Pretty in Pink" and "Pink Vail" fundraisers as well as last month's "Get Out Expo." Shipp points to the excellent medical and cultural offerings in Eagle County, when he says, "I think it's important the community should embrace those assets."
After growing up in Denver, wanderlust hit Shipp. He moved nearly every year in his 20s, including to California and Oregon. He spent a brief stint in Eagle County some time back, before relocating to Keystone, where he built a restaurant 18 years ago. He then relocated to Evergreen. By the time his daughter was four years old, he had moved 13 times. Eight years ago, he decided enough was enough and, largely for his family's sake, decided to settle down in Singletree in Edwards. Shipp still travels a lot, but now is firmly rooted. He has added the Dusty Boots in Eagle and Beaver Creek, Luigi's in Eagle and, most recently, the Metropolitan wine and tapas bar in Beaver Creek to his restaurant repertoire, which also includes three restaurants in Keystone.
Over the years, Shipp has lent his support to several local causes. Kim Sharkey, of Shaw Regional Cancer Center, has known Shipp for years. She notes, "We are not the only one he is supporting," An avid fly fisherman, skier and mountain biker, he serves on the board of Walking Mountains, a program with which his daughter, now 12 and in seventh grade, participates. He has hosted fundraisers for the school's new Avon facility, and recently sponsored the Buddy Werner bike team. "He is so generous throughout the community," observes Sharkey.
"John is creative and committed to supporting Shaw Regional Cancer Center," said Doris Kirchner, president and CEO of Vail Valley Medical Center. "We are grateful for his commitment to Shaw and to our local community as a whole."
That is why, when the Vail Valley Medical Center and Shaw Regional Cancer Center put together the "Get Pretty in Pink" event to benefit the Shaw last fall, the team thought of approaching Shipp. The event invited local salons and restaurants to donate proceeds to the event for one day in October. "He didn't hesitate," recalls Sharkey, "but said, 'absolutely.' He had a passion for the mission." He not only agreed to donate 20 percent of his Eagle County restaurant sales that day to the event, he took the effort a step further, personally matching the $2,146 funds raised by his restaurants, creating a $4,292 total gift.
"Pretty in Pink was a great awareness building project that gave the community businesses - mostly salons, survivors and supporters - a way to bring awareness to the importance of early detection of breast cancer, and to the issues surrounding treatment and survivorship," explains Peggy Carey, Vice President of Shaw Regional Cancer Center. "Business owners like John Shipp that host events for us increase the visibility of early detection and increase support for survivors in our community."
When the "Pink Vail" fundraiser came on the horizon this winter, Shipp was equally willing to jump on board, hosting a pre-event launch party in Eagle. Pink Vail raised $190,000 for cancer programs at Shaw. "By hosting events at (Shipp's) fine establishments, it creates a fun atmosphere in which to share a message, encourage participation and support survivors," says Carey.
Why Passionate about Shaw?
Dr. Jack Eck gave Shipp a personal tour of Shaw Regional Cancer Center last year. He was duly impressed by both the cancer treatment center and by Jack's Place. Jack's Place allows family members of cancer patients a welcoming place with a pay-what-you-can philosophy (the most they typically have to pay is just $25 per night). For cancer patients, just to be able to get treatment here, rather than traveling 100 miles for treatment is priceless, Shipp points out. The Shaw offers top-of-the-line equipment, including the only Mag View imaging machine between here and Grand Junction. "Philanthropy," states Sharkey, "helps support a lot of components, including top-of-the-line technology and the programming that often means so much to patients including yoga classes, massages, nutrition counseling and fitness planning."
There is also a very personal reason Shipp has become so passionate about cancer treatment programs. His mother was diagnosed a year ago with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. The good news is she is a strong woman and doing well for the challenge she's been given. But a close brush with cancer puts a new perspective on anyone's thinking.
Shipp's mother was fortunate to have first-rate medical care by excellent physicians on the Front Range, acknowledges Shipp. But, he says, "I think the human side of patient care was missing. I wish my mom would have had more of a personal touch with patient care," he says. Cancer, points out Shipp, is not just a physical ailment. It affects the mind and emotions as well, and depression is a common aspect of cancer. Therapy is vital, as are things like nutritional counseling. "Shaw offers that," he says. "Friends who have cancer can't say enough about Shaw Cancer Center," he observes.
But, he adds, "I think people don't know what Shaw has to offer. We just have a really nice facility, and I think we need to embrace it and realize what the Medical Center and Shaw have to offer."
Connie Steiert is a local freelance writer who was contracted by Vail Valley Medical Center to write this story.