Shane Loper, a long-time executive with Hancock Whitney, is this year’s recipient of the Gulf Coast YMCA’s humanitarian award in a year when the organization broke its fund-raising record.
Loper received the John R. Blossman Humanitarian Award at the Y’s annual charity gala at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi on Thursday.
The record-breaker: $100,000 to support community programs.
Loper is an Ocean Springs native and is COO for Hancock Whitney bank. He has been a leader with the Mississippi Coast-born bank for almost 30 years and has served on the Gulf Coast YMCA board for seven years.
Hancock Whitney is the presenting sponsor for this year’s award and banquet and Loper said he he is grateful “to the many people whose generosity helped us exceed our goal” in a program that impacts so many lives.
“I am honored and humbled to hold an award bearing the name of such an incredible community servant and a good man who loved Ocean Springs and the Gulf Coast,” Loper said.
The award is named for John Blossman, whose father Woody Blossman founded the Gulf Coast YMCA in 1975, after seeing a child drown.
John Blossman chaired Blossman Gas Co., the propane business his father started, and spent most of his life in Ocean Springs, building a legacy of service on the Coast. He was an ardent supporter of the Y.
John Blossman, with his wife, Courtney, was instrumental in organizing the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and remained a passionate champion for Gulf Coast arts, culture, education, economic development, youth programs, and quality of life. He received the City of Ocean Springs Lifetime Achievement Award before his death in 2009.
Proceeds from this event go directly to the Strong Kids Campaign. It also provides scholarships for discounted YMCA memberships for families in need.
Past recipients of the humanitarian award are Scott Lemon, Mickey Williams, John and Maryalice Miner, Jeanne Luckey, Roland Weeks, Dave Dennis, Gerald Blessey, Jerry O’Keefe and John R. Blossman.
Woody Blossman’s Gulf Coast YMCA was based on the principles of George Williams, who founded the first Young Men’s Christian Association in 1844 as a refuge from street life in industrialized London, focusing on social needs rather than the rigid lines of English caste and class.
The English “Y” inspired retired sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan to form the first YMCA in America in Boston in 1851.