Saturday, October 23, 2010

Throw your change in every time

There have been days over the last months when I have been having a really bad day because of long doctor's appointments and waits at pharmacies and Danica's pain and someone will be particularly rude at a stoplight or waiting in line somewhere when I am dazed, and I want to tell them to please understand what I am going through. Once Danica began wearing her collar it was shocking to me how much more sympathy and concern we received in day to day situations. Suddenly, people maybe realized our shoes might be a little more uncomfortable than their shoes that day.

One of the biggest blessings while we were in Cincinnati was getting in to the Ronald McDonald House the night of Danica's surgery. I had heard many stories about this amazing organization but never imagined what a gift it would be to stay right next to the hospital in such a beautiful and caring environment while Danica was recovering from surgery. The Cincinnati House is one of the largest in the United States with 78 guest rooms that stay full all the time with families who have travelled from around the United States and the world to seek treatment for their children at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

There were nights I would literally stumble over to the house in exhaustion or get a ride from their shuttle because the neighborhood around the hospital is really not good at all, and once I was through the black gates, saw Ronald sitting on the bench, heard the beautiful fountain waters and entered the heavy wooden front door I felt like I was home. There are always meals there donated from area groups and businesses, cookies and treats baked at night and milk in the fridge. Every door has a poster created by the family about the child who is there for surgery or treatment. It is a completely different kind of feeling than staying in a hotel. There is a kinship and warmth felt when you walk past someone in the hall or see them in the community kitchen. You KNOW it's been a hard day. You KNOW they need a smile and a prayer for grace and strength. You KNOW they are taking nothing for granted.

We stayed there eight nights. The average stay is 27 nights. Dan, my mom, Eleanor, my mother-in-law, Delaney and I rotated sleeping in the two queen beds in our comfortable room. They ask you pay a $25 donation per night but no family is turned away if they cannot make the donation. The actual cost per room per night is $100, but the average cost most families are able to pay is only $8. Everyone pitches in. There is no maid service. People do their own laundry, make their own beds, sweep their floors and clean their bathrooms. Everyone helps to keep the community areas clean.

Everytime you go through the drive-thru for a Happy Meal or Big Mac I hope you'll throw your change in. If you live near a Ronald McDonald House consider volunteering or checking out their website for items they need donated. These houses truly become home for people who are dealing with some of the hardest days of their life. When our shoes are too tight Ronald's big floppy shoes are an amazing gift.

Check out the TODAY show tomorrow morning at 8am for a feature story on the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati and a special boy, Magnus, who decided to give back to this special place.

1 comment:

  1. I saw him this morning on the Today show, what an amazing little boy. I believe they said that his mom was dealing with some illness, and he didn't even know it. So happy you were blessed by being able to stay there!