Friends rally to assist Conway family

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 21, 2007

WOODLAND – Tina Bryant felt helpless in the days after her friend, Mary Jenkins, gave birth to a little girl three and a half months early.

Bryant could only watch as Mary and her husband, Jonathan Jenkins, drove back and forth between their home in Conway and The Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Va., forcing them to split time between their tiny newborn daughter, Macy, and their three year old son, Wade.

“Someone was with her everyday,” said Bryant, referring to both sets of grandparents, Floyd and Wanda Jenkins and Al and Ruth Wentzy, who would also make the trip to see Macy.

Both Mary, who was healing from a c-section, and Jonathan had to take time off from work in order to make their travels to see Macy. Mary is a teacher at Bearfield Primary School and Jonathan works at the Georgia Pacific Chemical plant and a volunteer firefighter in Conway.

Bryant said her friends could only touch their one-pound, 14-ounce daughter with one finger as she lay in an incubator in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

In spite of her size, Macy showed strength and zest in the first week after her birth, which surprised her doctor. But within the second week, infections began to set in and Macy’s health started to deteriorate.

All the while Bryant tried to help the Jenkins by offering to baby sit Wade, which they humbly declined.

“They would say, ‘We’re fine.’ They’re just the kind of people that are not going to ask (for help),” she said. “So I had to do something.”

However, Bryant’s feeling of helplessness quickly turned to grief when Macy passed away just two and a half weeks after she was born.

Driving home from a field trip from Rocky Mount with her own daughter, Bryant thought of a way to help the Jenkins through a golf tournament as a way to ease their medical expenses.

Together with her husband, Jamie, Bryant organized The Macy Jenkins Golf Tournament which will be held on June 1 at 2 p.m. at the Valley Pine Country Club in Lasker.

The four man superball tournament will also feature a meal after the event. So far eight teams have signed onto play as well as 20 sponsors.

As word started to spread about the tournament, Bryant soon saw the full support of the community.

“I can’t tell you the number of people who have volunteered and helped,” she said. “People are really digging in.”

Bryant said most of the food for the meal has been donated. The use of the country club was also offered for free.

Strangers who have been touched by the Jenkins’ story have made monetary donations in an effort to help the family. Bryant said a young couple from Pendleton gave $350 after they had seen a flyer in a local business. Others have come up to Bryant to ask what they can do or what she needs for the tournament.

In the meantime, the Jenkins continue to heal after the loss of Macy. Both Mary and Jonathan will start back to work soon.

Bryant said the Jenkins have planted a garden in their yard fashioned from the flowers they’ve received from friends and relatives. They refer to it as “Macy’s Garden” and it serves as a daily reminder of their daughter.

“They have a strong faith, they have a strong marriage,” said Bryant. “They’re a tight knit family and they lean on each other.”

The entry for the Macy Jenkins Golf Tournament is $250 for each team and $100 to sponsor a hole. Bryant said teams and sponsors can enter until June 1.

Those interested in participating, donating to or sponsoring the Macy Jenkins Golf Tournament can contact the Bryants by calling (252) 585-1216 or (252) 578-3558.