Nonprofit donates iPads to help Hollings patients pass the time during treatment

October 18, 2022
a couple points out features of an ipad to a woman while another looks on
Deb Cassidy, left, and Jennifer Wood, right, were on hand to accept the donations on behalf of Hollings Cancer Center from Vicki and Sheldon Eaton, center. Photos by Clif Rhodes

A Montana man’s love and compassion for others will be felt by patients at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center. 

Ryan Eaton, 25, battled synovial sarcoma for 14 months, being treated at multiple hospitals in the West before succumbing. Yet throughout his treatment, he worried about the other patients he saw who didn’t have family with them because of the long distances they had traveled for treatment. He would tell his father to go visit with another young patient instead of with him, his father, Sheldon Eaton, said.

Ryan Eaton saw that iPads could help patients to pass the time and visit with faraway friends and family. He and his brother Dallas had already hatched plans to launch a T-shirt company, but they decided to tweak the mission and use the proceeds from shirt sales to buy and donate iPads.

He did not make it long enough to see the first donation come to pass, but his family has carried out his plans. The iPads are something tangible and immediate that can be provided to help cancer patients, Sheldon Eaton explained.

This month, Sheldon Eaton and his wife, Vicki, were at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center to donate 22 iPads to be used by patients during treatment. They’ll be divided among the treatment areas at the main Hollings location in Charleston, at the infusion center at MUSC Health East Cooper Medical Pavilion and the in-patient floor of Ashley River Tower.

a couple poses behind a table filled with ipads, decals and photos 
Sheldon and Vicki Eaton visited Hollings from their home in Montana to make the donation.

“We’re glad to be able to keep his dream alive. The best part for us is that we get to do it. A lot of people, when they lose their son or daughter, then it’s over,” Sheldon Eaton said. “It is over, but it’s not over. We get to carry on the love that he had for trying to help others, so it’s extra special for us to be able to do it.”

Through United Luv, the T-shirt company turned nonprofit, the family has now donated more than 550 iPads. They started with a focus on cancer patients and hospitals but since have expanded to children’s hospitals and clinics and, when COVID struck, to nursing homes. In addition to donating to Hollings, the Eatons also donated iPads to the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion.

The Eatons don’t have a direct connection to MUSC or to Hollings. But they’re familiar with Charleston because Vicki Eaton’s sister and brother-in-law, Hal and Susie Sutton, live here, and they’re friends with Hollings supporters Gary Donner and Irene Miller. Since they were coming for a family visit, Vicki Eaton read up on MUSC and was happy to add it to the list of hospitals across the country that they have visited.

“We’re seeing a dream come true,” Sheldon Eaton said.