Ryleigh Jenkins and Jim Fisher

Ryleigh Jenkins presents her gift to Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Jim Fisher.

MUSC’s youngest donor loves dogs, butterflies and the color pink. She also shares her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and her family’s commitment to community.

Ryleigh Jenkins, who turned 5 in April, learned about beading from a family friend this past December. When she showed an interest in making her own jewelry, her mother, Jocelyn, bought her a bead kit.

Flutter Free began with a few bracelets that Ryleigh made for her mom, but soon Ryleigh asked if she could turn her new hobby into a small business. Jocelyn agreed but challenged Ryleigh to think about whom she could help with her bracelets.

“I want to give to the children’s hospital,” Ryleigh answered. “Like Daddy.”

Her father, Benefitfocus founder and CEO Shawn Jenkins, in 2015 made a $25 million commitment to help build a new MUSC Children’s Hospital, set to open in 2019. His pledge came after a family meeting in which everyone had a vote, including then 3-year-old Ryleigh.

Ryleigh gives 10 percent of bracelet proceeds to her church, uses a little money to purchase new materials and something small for herself and then splits everything else between the campaign for the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Lowcountry Orphan Relief.

By February she had raised $1,300, after tithing and expenses, and distributed her first donations. MUSC Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Jim Fisher accepted Ryleigh’s gift on behalf of the children’s hospital.

“That was the first check presentation I’ve done sitting on the floor, learning how to bead,” Fisher said. “But in all seriousness, I’ve known Ryleigh her entire life, and while I’m impressed, I’m not at all surprised by her kindness and generosity.”

True to her family name, Ryleigh appreciates the value of digital marketing. Whenever her mother posts Ryleigh’s latest creation on Facebook, Jocelyn often hears a shout from the artist’s room: “Hashtag this, Mom!” 

Check out her bracelets on Facebook.

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