A 1969 graduate of Chesterfield High School, Leppard strayed from his normal topic of heart disease to talk about the impact Chesterfield had on his life.
"Chesterfield is a wonderful town. It was a great town to grow up in. The impact and influence of Chesterfield (in my life) is endless," he said. He described himself as the small town boy who followed his dream. "But, I did not do it alone. I received help from many, many who are here tonight."
Leppard, who had nearly 15 years of medical schooling and training, thanked the teachers, ministers and coaches of the community who provided him with a solid foundation of education and discipline. The doctor said when he goes into a patient's room, he carries with him what he learned living in Chesterfield: compassion for others.
Leppard graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1973 and from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1977. He was the assistant resident, chief resident and clinical instructor in general surgery at Louisiana State University in New Orleans from 1977-82.
He completed a clinical fellowship and was assistant resident and chief resident in thorastic and cardiovascular surgery at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., from 1980-84. In 1984, 15 years after graduating high school, he finally "went to work" practicing thorastic and cardiovascular surgery in Columbia at Providence Hospital.
Leppard said an important lesson in life is to follow your passion no matter how long it takes or how tough the tasks. He congratulated the State Championship wrestling team for the hard work and sacrifice of obtaining a state title, but he also congratulated the Chesterfield High football team, which ended the season 1-10. "(The football players) should have held their heads high when they walked off the field at the end of the season because - one, they participated; two, they played their hardest and best; and three, they never quit."