February's MVP: Elizabeth Hancock

Elizabeth Hancock leads Friends of the Children of Hilton Head.

February's MVP: A Mom on a MissionFew things are as devastating as the diagnosis of a serious illness in a child. Elizabeth and Bobby Hancock faced that bleak reality, and all the uncertainties that accompany it, when their daughter Sarah was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

Thanks to MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston, the Hancocks’ story has a happy ending.

Today, Elizabeth Hancock and the organization she cofounded are doing all they can to ensure that other families have the same experience.

“We’re so grateful; the care we received was incredible,” she said. “ We knew we needed to let others in this area know about and connect to the hospital and the resources there.”

Nine years ago, Hancock joined 10 other Lowcountry parents, several of whom had experienced the care at MUSC Children’s Hospital, to create Friends of the Children of Hilton Head.

Now, more than 130 members strong, the organization has helped hundreds of area parents in their time of need.

“Our main objective was outreach – to make sure people knew about MUSC Children’s Hospital and the Darby Children’s Research Institute,” she said. “It’s one of only 15 facilities of its caliber in the country — it attracts top doctors from around the world. We also wanted to educate people about children’s health issues.”

Friends of Children of Hilton Head is able to help local families with everything from selecting the specialists they should contact to arranging transportation to securing prompt appointments – sometimes even on the same day.

The group will even accompany parents to appointments, an invaluable service for a parent feeling overwhelmed with information and options. They also connect parents with others, who have undergone similar diagnoses and experiences, for support.

As part of the group’s mission to educate, Friends hosts several luncheon lectures each year during which top physicians speak on issues related to children’s health. Everything from brain development and autism to pediatric cardiology and orthopedics has been discussed.

In addition to the guest lecturer, the luncheons regularly draw top MUSC Children’s Hospital doctors, such as Dr. Lyndon Key, chairman of MUSC Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatrics, and Dr. Charles Darby, founder of the Darby Children’s Research Institute.

“The people who attend are amazing and available to speak with the audience,” Hancock said. The next lecture is scheduled for Feb. 26 at the Wexford Clubhouse. Director of Darby Children’s Research Institute Dr. Bernard Maria will be the featured speaker. The public is invited, but reservations are required.

Though fund raising has never been the group’s major purpose, over the years they have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Darby Children’s Research Institute through events, such as a shoe and handbag fashion show of Charleston designer Mary Norton, who sits on the MUSC Children’s Hospital Board with Hancock, and their Junior Banana Tennis Tournament, scheduled for the first weekend of May.

“Many people aren’t even aware the MUSC Children’s Hospital exists or of the unique benefits of a dedicated hospital especially for children,” Hancock said. “You don’t have to be a member to use our services. If you need help call us – anytime. It’s what we’re here for.”

For more information regarding Friends of the Children of Hilton Head, call Elizabeth Hancock at (843) 681-2047.