John Kaplan: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

John Kaplan

Published: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.

John Kaplan is a professor of journalism at UF who documented his personal journey with lymphoma in the acclaimed film, "Not As I Pictured."


Category: Arts

About John Kaplan

Occupation: Professor of Journalism, UF

Years in Gainesville: 13

Spouse: Li

Children: Carina and Max

He gave a free film screening at the Phillips Center, which included a community cancer coping roundtable discussion, attended by more than 400, in collaboration with Shands Cancer Center and UF College of Medicine. John has presented locally to several cancer support groups, the Rotary Club, as well as UF medical humanities students, UF medical school applicants, and UF healthcare students.

The first broadcast of the film was on Gainesville’s own WUFT-TV, followed by several rebroadcasts at the request of viewers. What began in Gainesville grew to national broadcasts on PBS stations, reaching 94 million American homes and 19 of the top 20 U.S. media markets. To date, there have been more than 700 PBS broadcasts nationwide. Local coverage of John and his story can be found in The Gainesville Sun, Gainesville Magazine, UF Today, The Independent Florida Alligator, and on WUFT-FM.

With the DVD version of the film, John decided to include a cancer coping guide. He collaborated with the two largest organizations worldwide for cancer support and research: the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He then went a step further by distributing the DVD copies for free to cancer patients and caregivers, first locally, then nationally and now internationally. His humanitarian efforts have resulted in more than 6,000 copies being given away. If anyone reading this is interested in a free copy, please visit

Furthermore, I personally know of families in Gainesville that John and his wife, Li, help in coping with cancer and the struggles that ensue. He has also volunteered for the past two years on the advisory board for the North Florida chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and emceed their 2012 Northern and Central Florida Man and Woman of the Year annual fundraiser, which raised more than $145,000 in search of a cure.

This month (September) is National Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness month, and I can’t think of a better way to thank John for his dedicated contributions to Gainesville and cancer support than with a Spirit of Gainesville Award.

Note to the editor: I was not sure whether this nomination should be Arts (since it all began with a film) or Medicine (subject matter). I acquiesce to your decision as to where it fits best.

Submitted by Sarah Luesch

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