BenefitFocus founder donates $25 million to new MUSC Children's Hospital

    Jim Fisher announced the donation Thursday morning (Bill Burr/WCIV)

    CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Medical University of South Carolina received a substantial gift from a local businessman.

    The founder of BenefitFocus, Shawn Jenkins, donated $25 million to MUSC's new children's hospital. The gift represents roughly ten percent of the estimated cost to build the new children's hospital.

    Jenkins said at the Board of Trustees meeting the gift came from his interest in helping the state's children.

    "The children who come here are at the most vulnerable point in their lives in terms of health and finances. They need someone to stand in the gap with them. My family is fortunate to be able to do that, and we look forward to working together with the community to bring the best healthcare possible to the children of South Carolina and our neighboring states," he said.

    MUSC Vice President for Development, Jim Fisher announced the donation Thursday morning and called it "the most exciting opportunity in my 37 years" at MUSC.

    To recognize Jenkins' generosity, the MUSC Board of Trustees approved the motion to name the new hospital after him. MUSC officials said when the new hospital opens in 2019, it will be named the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital.

    Jenkins said he brought his daughter, Olivia, to the MUSC Children's Hospital back when he was only making $18,000 a year. He said her doctors left an impression.

    Now he's making an impression at MUSC with what officials say is the largest single contribution made in the hospital's history.

    "We have a bold new vision for children's health," said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D. "This wonderful new partnership with Mr. Jenkins and his family will enable this vision to become a reality for our children. We still have work to do, but with the generous support of donors like Mr. Jenkins, this facility will become a landmark for world-class children's healthcare and will impact every family in our state. We are tremendously grateful and excited."

    Earlier this year, Darius Rucker and his wife Beth were named honorary fundraising chairs when they announced their plans to help raise $50 million for the new hospital. They also donated $750,000 in proceeds from the Big Band concert.

    A month later, SCE&G donated $500,000 to the project to honor Thad Bostian, a journeyman lineman with SCE&G, his wife Emily, son Michael and daughter Emma Grace, who is being treated at Children's Hospital for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

    The donation from Jenkins puts the donation total over $40 million, officials said.

    MUSC officials say they expect to break ground on the new hospital in 2016 and will replace the decades old children's hospital on Ashley Avenue. When the hospital opens in 2019, it will have a floor devoted to children's cancer and one of the most advanced pediatric heart centers in the country.

    "We made this commitment as a family, and it has already enriched our lives and inspired us to show our support in other ways as time goes on. It's a beautiful thing," said Jenkins. "I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of the new Children's Hospital. With this major milestone, I feel like we're just at the beginning of a journey that will bring this community together and achieve a positive impact on the future of our state's children for generations to come."

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