And, both have turned traumatic experiences into forces for good. Hobson lost daughter Jane as an infant. The little girl and twin brother Joel were born at 28 weeks, and Jane became ill with necrotizing enterocolitis. She passed away at two weeks old.
Lightman’s husband, Michael, had a zipline accident five years ago. She can still hear the terrified voices of their children, and the paramedics declaring him a top-level trauma patient.
Rather than give into the pain of those events, Hobson and Lightman were inspired to pour their energy into helping others in times of medical crisis.
They’re co-chairing the Regional One Health Foundation ONE Night fundraising gala Saturday, April 13 at Memphis Cook Convention Center. R&B legends Chaka Khan and Billy Ocean will entertain on this night of powerful philanthropy.
Hobson, who operates Hobson Realtors with husband Joel, was introduced to Regional One Health after touring its Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center as a March of Dimes volunteer.
"I want more women to have access,Jane hadn’t been treated there because all its beds were full, and that, plus the inspirational work Jennifer witnessed, sparked her desire to help expand the facility: “The premature birth rate in Memphis is very high – the fact that there was no room for Jane shows the need. I want more women to have access, because I feel like if you come to Regional One Health, they’ll save you.”
because I feel like if you come to
Regional One Health,
they'll save you." .Jennifer Hobson
Lightman saw precisely that at the Elvis Presley Trauma Center with Michael. He had a broken back, and doctors hurried to protect his spinal cord. He would eventually recover. While those personal experiences are a big motivator, Regional One Health’s role as Memphis’ safety-net hospital inspires them as well.
During Michael’s emergency, “I could hear the grief and pain everyone was going through,” said Lightman. “These were all Memphians, many hanging on by a thread. Their emergencies didn’t come by choice, and it could happen to any of us.
“I gained a new perspective of Regional One Health and the need for the best equipment, staff and innovation so every Memphian has the best chance for survival or healing.”
For Hobson, her desire to help serve the underserved helps the city she loves thrive. “Memphis has a lot going for it, but to me it’s about the people,” Hobson said. “I don’t think you meet a stranger. Everybody is warm, welcoming and ready to serve you a good plate of food! Memphis has soul: when you leave it, you feel it.” Lightman agrees. “You can talk to someone you’ve never met and discover a person you both know. In Memphis, the more involved you are in something you’re passionate about, you find a group with similar passions that will embrace you.” That’s a vibe that carries through to ONE Night, which Hobson said “feels like Memphis” thanks to its diverse crowd and upbeat atmosphere. With work-of-art invitations, stunning decor and world-class entertainment, “We give our guests an experience – not just a show, an experience.”
“Memphis is one of the top cities for philanthropic giving, and we know how to make it fun,” Lightman added. “We love good food and music, and we embrace each other’s individuality.” It’s a lot of hard work, but both women balance the passions they pursue for their community with those they enjoy personally. A lifelong animal lover, Hobson has opened her home to three dogs, two umbrella cockatoos and an African tortoise named El Chapo. She’s an avid reader and loves to hit the tennis court: “I play tennis like it’s my job,” she laughed. “That’s my sanity.”
Lightman is also a reading and tennis enthusiast – “My whole family plays, so you can usually find a Lightman on a tennis court!” – and has loved travel since joining her father on the scientific lecture circuit while growing up: “It opened my eyes to how the rest of the world lives. It’s something I wanted to make sure my children have the opportunity to do.”
Both added the hours they pour into ONE Night are well worth it considering what’s at stake. “Everyone in Memphis who has a traumatic emergency deserves the best chance of survival so they can go home to their families or loved ones,” Lightman said.
“ONE Night spreads awareness that we need a bigger NICU, bigger burn unit, top surgeons, state-of-the-art equipment,” Hobson said. “We need that because Regional One Health saves lives. And what’s more important than saving someone’s life?”
ONE Night in Memphis...
What: Regional One Health Foundation ONE Night gala
featuring Chaka Khan and Billy Ocean
When: Saturday, April 13 from 6-11 p.m.
Where: Memphis Cook Convention Center, 255 N. Main St.