Tears of Joy

Last week I had the incredible privilege of partnering with the Medical University of South Carolina to help build a new Children’s Hospital. It is the beginning of something great for our community and our state. My part in the new hospital is only possible because of the incredible associates at Benefitfocus. Below is a note I sent to them shortly after our announcement. The outpouring of love, joy and support has been overwhelming.


Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital


Hi folks,

This morning I had the privilege to walk through a door of opportunity that is simultaneously exciting and humbling. The door leads to a future with a new hospital dedicated to the care and healing of the most vulnerable children in our state. My family and I are donating $25 million to help with the building of the new MUSC Children’s Hospital.

Our software and services help employers continue to provide a broader array of benefits while helping employees and their families select the best programs suited for their unique needs. In an ever-growing way, we are becoming the platform for delivering coverage for people in their time of need. Our social mission as the Benefitfocus family is becoming clearer and bolder every day.

To experience the shared success we have had together and to be in a position to then give that back into the community for such a vital service as our state’s Children’s Hospital brings tears of joy to my eyes. Just a short 15 years ago we were a scrappy, bootstrapped startup trying to prove ourselves. Today we are still scrappy and have a lot left to prove to the world, yet we are able to help improve the lives of those who desperately need it.

I wish there was a way for me to convey to you how thankful I am for you and the incredible job you do each day. You make us great. You are building something unique, special and significant. You make my role easy, you push all of us higher. Together we are redefining what is possible in business and technology. We are not settling for the former ways of business but rather making our own culture and sense of place. In so doing we are having a greater and greater positive impact on our communities, our customers, and people in need.

As a kid, I would cry myself to sleep with worry because my mom had to work so hard to keep us under a roof, fed and clothed. There is no doubt that much of my career drive is a deep-seated desire to erase that fear from myself, my mom, my family and anyone I work with. I never want people to go to bed at night afraid of not having enough. To think we have built a company that would allow me to help build a leading hospital dedicated to children and their families in their greatest hour of need is beyond words. The past few weeks as we have talked and prayed as a family about this commitment and as it has become a reality, I have found myself crying often. But now I cry during the day. I cry out of joy, no longer out of fear. My eyes are filled with tears of pride in what we have accomplished together, my heart is filled with hope for the future.

That little boy is still in me. I know him well. He inspires me to keep going. He always wants to offer his hand to help those in a situation like his. He now sleeps well at night but gets up in the morning with wide eyes that only see what is possible. Today, at a Medical University of South Carolina Board of Trustees meeting he was proven right. Big things are possible, if you don’t give up. Big things are possible, when you work together.

Thank you for all that you do. I wish I had words to deeply convey the appreciation I have for you and the impact you, and we together, will have on so many.

We’re just getting started.