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Girls plan marathon journey to run up donations for new children's hospital
Helen Adams | | June 7, 2016

North Myrtle Beach runners
Photos by Sarah Pack

Dr. Rita Ryan (Department of Pediatrics chairwoman), sitting on left with dark hair, talks with North Myrtle Beach runners Emily Worsham, Krista Drozdowski, Kaylin Regan, Taylor Monahan and Eden Fowler. Coach Earl Main is standing, wearing a green shirt. 

Ten miles the first day, 20 miles a day after that. Running. In South Carolina’s summer heat.

It’s enough to make a veteran marathoner think twice. But not six determined girls who go to North Myrtle Beach High School. They’re planning to run 120 miles over the course of six days this June to raise money to help build the new Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital at the Medical University of South Carolina.

A coach who volunteers with the cross country and track and field teams at their school will lead the way from Charleston to North Myrtle Beach, although the fundraiser is not affiliated with the school. “I want them to understand you need to help people. You need to give back to your community,” coach Earn Main said.

His young athletes are doing that in a big way. Alex Booth, Krista Drozdowski, Eden Fowler, Taylor Monahan, Kaylin Regan and Emily Worsham recently went right to the source to learn about the part of the community they’re giving back to. They visited MUSC Children’s Hospital and learned about the new hospital that will replace it.

site of Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital 
The Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital is scheduled to open on this site in 2019.  

The current hospital is almost 30 years old. While it maintains a high national ranking, including being recognized as a “best hospital” for children’s heart programs by U.S. News & World Report, MUSC leaders say it’s time for a new one. 

The Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital is designed to create a setting where doctors can make the most of medical and technological advances and families can visit in greater comfort. It will include an expanded neonatal intensive care unit, an entire floor dedicated to the care of children with cancer and the most comprehensive pediatric heart center in South Carolina. 

The new hospital is under construction at the corner of Calhoun Street and Courtenay Drive, and more funds are needed to see it to completion. Its estimated cost is $385 million. A fundraising campaign is underway with a goal of collecting $125 million in private donations. About $83 million has been raised so far.

Barbara Rivers, director of development for the MUSC Children's Hospital Fund, said hearing about the North Myrtle Beach girls, who she described as "all in" with their fundraiser, was wonderful. "Every gift matters," Rivers said. "What they're doing is great, not only because it's going to an important cause, but also because it's serving as a wonderful example to others."

Main said he was surprised by how much the girls got out of their visit. “They thought it was wonderful.”

Dr. Rita Ryan, North Myrtle Beach runners 
Dr. Ryan talks with the girls who will run 120 miles to raise money to help build the Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. 

The 66-year-old volunteer coach has a track record of enthusiastically supporting good causes, using his feet to run up donations. For example, Main said, “I ran across the U.S. in 1999. I ran 32 miles a day to raise money for the national children’s hospital in Washington, D.C.”

Main, a retired satellite engineer, said he learned as a child growing up poor in 1950s Maryland that it’s important to help others. Without the generosity of his church, he said his family wouldn’t have been able to clothe him. “I have to give back to my community."

He’s trying to instill that drive in the students he coaches. “Kids just think they’re entitled to everything. I keep telling them, if you want something in life, you work for it. People haven’t taken the time to show the kids what you have to do to be a member of society.”

Main said the teenage girls he coaches get it. “The oldest one is 16. They say they’re running for the kids who can’t.”

The run will begin June 12 at 7 a.m. in front of the MUSC Children’s Hospital. The group will run 10 miles the first day, 20 miles a day for the next five days and the last 10 miles on June 18, ending at the beach on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach. 

“We wanted to finish on Saturday so all our families and friends could finish the last mile with us,” Main said. To find out more about contributing to their fundraiser, visit their MUSC page.



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