It is one thing to dream big, and it is entirely another to see our dreams come to fruition. In 2016, we began to realize some of our dreams and goals, as we witnessed groundbreakings, strategic advancements and continued growth toward our future.
The following include just a few highlights from this noteworthy year:
Even while working toward milestones, we never stopped dreaming in 2016. In fact, we will unveil several new fundraising initiatives across campus in the new year. We look forward to sharing those ambitions with you.
As a state institution, MUSC depends on private gifts to remain a leader in research, patient care and education. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity, trust and advocacy. Your support ensures a future of making and achieving big dreams.
Yours in service,
David J. Cole, M.D., FACS | President, Medical University of South Carolina
“It’s not just about doctors and the right equipment. For the babies and children, it will be good to have a space where parents and grandparents can be with them.”
- Pearl Tourville
Pearl Tourville, or “Miss Pearl” to everyone in Orangeburg who knows her, served as a Cub Scouts den mother and raised her boys on home-cooked meals. Her fondest memories from growing the family business, Zeus Industrial Products, were Sundays spent with her husband, Frank, and their children, cutting tubing with razor blades and performing their own trial-and-error research and development.
Zeus, a polymer tubing company, grew from its upstart roots into a leading international supplier. But Miss Pearl remained the same soft-spoken woman who put family above all else.
Given that conviction, supporting the new children’s hospital at MUSC seemed like a natural fit for the Tourvilles. They recognized that a gift to the new hospital would benefit generations of families across the state. And they especially appreciated its focus on keeping families together during treatment.
High-tech devices and world-class doctors improve care, Miss Pearl points out, but a comfortable, family-centered setting makes all the difference in recovery.
The Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion at the MUSC Shawn Children’s Hospital will offer both. The new facility will handle the toughest, most complex pregnancies and neonatal care. And in addition to bringing together a team of specialists and state-of-the-art equipment, the pavilion will provide the necessary space to ensure that mothers and babies – and their families – can remain together throughout their hospital stay.
To Pearl Tourville, nothing matters more.
“It’s so amazing to be able to do this and to change the world a little bit. I just want to improve the lives of sarcoidosis patients and their families.”
- Susan Pearlstine
Her own diagnosis came after an alarming realization at the top of a ski lift in Park City, Utah: Susan Pearlstine couldn’t breathe.
Months earlier, she’d been treated successfully for inflammation of the eye. She soon learned that the seemingly unrelated medical problems both resulted from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects various parts of the body and often settles in the lungs.
Pearlstine grew up in Charleston and worked as a candy striper at MUSC as a young girl. Following her diagnosis, she moved home from Utah and began an off-label treatment regimen at the same hospital where she once delivered magazines to patients.
In 2016 she became a multimillion-dollar supporter of MUSC and established the Susan Pearlstine Sarcoidosis Center of Excellence. South Carolina ranks fourth nationally in instances of sarcoidosis-related deaths, and MUSC -- already one of the largest sarcoidosis care providers in the nation -- receives more than 2,200 outpatient visits per year.
The new center brings together researchers who focus on sarcoidosis and related fibrosis diseases in a single physical setting, thereby increasing opportunities to receive grants and ultimately discover a cure.
Pearlstine now lives on her own terms, thanks to successful treatment. Knowing what sarcoidosis patients face, Pearlstine said she hopes that her contribution will become her legacy.
“This is the best part of my career, the stewardship segment. This is the good stuff.”
- Edwin McCain
Most people know Edwin McCain as a singer-songwriter, the man behind the hit songs “I’ll Be,” “I Could Not Ask for More” and “Solitude.” But McCain also is a long-time supporter of the MUSC Children’s Hospital and a self-proclaimed chronic restorer of old things. He wanted to find a way that he could get his hobby to pay for itself and also benefit a cause he believes in.
Animal Planet picked up McCain’s business, Boats Have Souls, for a six-part series called “Flipping Ships,” in which McCain and his team restored a new boat each episode. The show kicked off with a beat-up 1968 Sea King speedboat that McCain wanted to rehabilitate for his buddy, multi-platinum recording artist Darius Rucker.
Rucker agreed to the gift on one condition – that he and McCain could auction it off to benefit the children’s hospital. Rucker and his wife, Beth, co-chair the campaign for the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.
McCain paid $500 for the boat and not only restored its engine but transformed its exterior to candy-apple red and white with mahogany accents. He hid a blue-tooth equipped radio system and speakers with custom musical note embroidery. He named the boat Harmony.
Two local families entered into a friendly bidding war at the auction that followed. And with that, an old boat transformed into $82,000 for the children’s hospital.
“From the moment I heard about it, I knew I’d be doing it. I didn’t say if; it was when.”
- Ryan Levins
Bob Scott didn’t want to accept a kidney from his 23-year-old grandson, Ryan Levins, but Ryan stood firm.
“It’s not your decision,” he told Scott. “It’s my decision.”
Scott’s kidney problems had started several years ago, when he was diagnosed with progressive inflammation that likely originated with a virus. Before he could consider transplant, he faced several other major medical hurdles: Prostate cancer. A knee replacement. Bypass surgery and aortic valve replacement.
Scott conquered each challenge. As he considered transplant once again, his family members – most of whom live in Pennsylvania -- tested to become his donor. Levins, who recently had graduated from West Virginia University, remembered his blood type from donating in high school and knew that he matched his grandfather. Sure enough, he could donate the kidney that Scott needed.
Both men underwent successful surgery the day before Thanksgiving in 2015. Levins joked that he feasted on morphine and ice chips for the holiday.
He now volunteers with MUSC’s Living Donor Institute and joined a group of other transplant recipients and relatives in planning the institute’s inaugural 2nd Chance Golf Invitational, which took place in May. It seemed fitting; Levins, once a top-ranked Pennsylvania high school golfer, learned the game from his grandparents.
“I was very fortunate to receive scholarships when I was a student, so I always thought I would do that for someone else in 10 years. But we talked about it and decided, why wait?”
- Sherlonda Adkins
Sherlonda Adkins decided, at age 34, to leave a successful career in real estate, because she felt that something was missing from her life. With only six months to go before the application deadline, she committed to pursuing a degree as a physician assistant.
Even with prerequisites to complete and three children at home, she focused on her narrow deadline. She attended classes from morning until 10 p.m. and filled every spare moment with family time.
Adkins completed the program in 2014 and now splits her time between two PA jobs. She specializes in both psychiatry and internal medicine and credits her natural inclination to help people with her success in her new profession. Now she wants to help other nontraditional students hoping to make a career change like her own.
The same year Adkins graduated, she and her husband, Randy, established the Sherlonda T. Adkins and Family Scholarship, which already has helped two women, both nontraditional students.
One of them, Elizabeth Burton, completed her Ph.D. at MUSC in 2011 and went on to teach biology at College of Charleston. Burton’s second daughter required nine surgeries after birth -- including procedures to repair holes in her diaphragm and heart, and to install a feeding tube and a shunt in her brain.
After her own experience with her daughter’s treatment, Burton decided that she, too, wanted more. She wanted to become a PA and help others.
“I don’t want to just be someone who’s sad he lost his wife and is donating money. This whole thing is about getting early detection done on people who have these symptoms and saving somebody.”
- Harry Parnell
When Marti Parnell’s sudden bouts of nausea proved to be something more, she and her husband, Harry, planned to fight her cancer the same way they did everything in life – together.
They made plans to travel to an oncologist in Texas who specialized in treating her rare diagnosis. But within weeks of learning just what that diagnosis was, Marti wound up at her local hospital in Myrtle Beach, unable to stop vomiting and too far gone for treatment. In the days before Marti died, a friend came to visit her hospital room and asked if she could make a gift in Marti’s honor. Marti said she wanted the donation to fight cancer – specifically, her cancer.
Marti died from signet ring cell carcinoma, a rare form of stomach cancer that went undetected as it overtook her. Harry found himself alone in a new routine that he never anticipated, but with a mission: to honor his wife’s request. Harry has raised nearly $40,000 for signet ring cell carcinoma research and outreach. His started a foundation called Marti’s Wish.
Harry scoured the internet, searching for the right charity to receive the funds -- but he found, over and over, organizations looking for money for projects that didn’t come back to patient care. He eventually landed on Hollings Cancer Center’s website and combed through every cancer researcher’s biography before connecting with Dr. Carolyn Britten.
Dr. Britten will use Harry’s gifts to host educational events across the state that raise awareness about cancer warning signs. If it saves one life, Harry said, it fulfills Marti’s wish.
“I want to raise enough money to find a cure for pediatric cancer. I want to open a storefront one day to help me reach that goal.”
- Kate McCabe
For every $15 candle that she makes, Kate McCabe donates half the price – which amounts to nearly all her proceeds – to pediatric oncology research.
As a 10-year-old entrepreneur, Kate figured that was the best way she could help her former babysitter, Hannah, and other young cancer patients like Hannah.
Along the way, she opened a business bank account, learned about the melting point of soy wax and developed an understanding of why philanthropy matters.
Kate has presented $2,200 from Kate’s Candles for a Cure to the MUSC Children’s Hospital. When she delivered her first donation, she also toured a research lab with Hannah’s oncologist and learned more about where her friend receives treatment.
Hannah Warren, a Clemson University student, used to babysit Kate and her two older sisters. One day in 2014, when Hannah was a junior at Bishop England High School, she scratched her back and felt a lump the size of an avocado.
After testing and waiting, Hannah learned that she had Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of pediatric bone cancer. Her doctor told her that yes, she would need chemotherapy, and yes, she would lose her hair – but that Ewing’s sometimes is curable. Hannah committed not to settle for anything less.
Meanwhile, Kate committed to working for a cure – one hand-dipped soy candle at a time.
“MUSC has a beautiful place for these patients. I think it’s great if they can teach new students what to do. A lot of dentists are just scared to treat patients with special needs.”
- Dr. Isabel Driggers
Knowing how few dentists treat special-needs patients, Dr. Isabel Driggers and her husband, Jacob, made it their business to welcome them.
That means some adult patients travel hours to Coastal Kids Dental & Braces, which operates five locations. It also means that the team at Coastal Kids plays with schedules to ensure that violent patients don’t arrive at the same time as children and that extra staff members come in to help. The team sometimes even performs dental exams in the parking lot, when patients refuse to come inside.
Despite the additional effort, Coastal Kids receives little reimbursement from Medicaid, if any at all. But even as a dental student, Dr. Driggers knew that these patients lacked access to providers. She learned first-hand the starkness of that gap in care when she completed her residency at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and worked in its special-needs clinic.
MUSC’s James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Dr. Driggers’ alma mater, welcomed its first patient to its own Special Care Dentistry Clinic in January 2015. Even with three young boys of their own, Isabel and Jacob Driggers pledged $100,000 to offset operational expenses at the clinic for 20 years.
MUSC saw about a dozen patients with special needs before it opened the Special Care Dentistry Clinic, according to Advanced Education in General Dentistry Director Dr. Michelle Ziegler. Dr. Zeigler said the clinic now sees more than 200 patients. In late 2015 it expanded from one day a week to two, thanks to donors such as the Driggers family.