It’s hard to tell Summer all about who her Dad was.
I try every day – but there aren’t words sometimes. I made a big quilt, patched together with Ryan’s t-shirts and gave it to Summer. In its way, it helps me tell his story – our story – and the love that he shared with us.
It’s a tough story. Life came undone for our family about two years ago now. And honestly, we wouldn’t be where we are now, without the Ronald McDonald House.
That day started out like a typical Saturday. We were going to Cincinnati to visit some of our closest friends. When we got into the car to go home, I knew Summer was exhausted, and I bet Ryan that she would fall asleep in her car seat before we were even to the first stop light. We were sitting at that first light and when it turned from red to green, I turned back to see if Summer was asleep. Then I really don’t remember anything for three days.
I woke up. I knew there was an accident – a violent one. I learned that Ryan was gone and that our Summer was very hurt – that she was at the children’s hospital, suffering and paralyzed from a broken neck. Life as I knew it was unraveling; I was reeling from physical and emotional pain that was taking over my body.
It didn’t seem like anything that anyone said to me was going to make things better. But the Ronald McDonald House, steps from Summer’s bedside, opened the door for me and my mom. They said, “Hey, we have a bed and food.” Simple words. A simple offer. But exactly what I needed.
Being able to stay next to Summer, and having my Mom there to do a load of laundry, to heat up dinner for me, to hold my head up, and to give me strength to help Summer fight was huge for me.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides this network of Houses – places for hope and healing when your world is falling apart. They provided stability among utter chaos and made Summer and my recovery period much less difficult. And I know there are millions more children and moms just like me who depend on the cradle of support they receive from RMHC programs.
Right now, Summer and I are doing surprisingly well. My little girl already turned three and she is nearly 100% recovered. Although she will never know her dad, my Ryan, like I do, I will continue telling her how much he loved her – how much she meant to him – how proud he would be of the smart, healthy, beautiful little girl that she has become.
Donors like you help put the pieces back together for families like us. Your support is invaluable. Your gift to Ronald McDonald House Charities this holiday season is truly the gift of togetherness. Please make a donation to RMHC today.
- Erin Maley
When the Szott’s son Shane became extremely ill due to an e-coli infection, the Szott family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for 28 days. Within the first 48 hours at Children’s Hospital, Shane’s kidney function failed completely.
Shane’s diagnosis evolved into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), and he was placed on dialysis. Shane’s condition worsened as his blood pressure, heart function, and respiratory system all started failing. A team of wonderful doctors at Children’s Hospital released them from their nightmare – Shane recovered.
As far as the Szott family is concerned, the doctors performed a miracle.
Thad Szott, Shane’s father said, ““We knew the day Shane was released that we would be involved in giving back to both Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. As an owner of 3 Chrysler dealerships, Thad was able to secure a donation that provided the funds needed to do a room makeover at the Ronald McDonald House. In addition, Thad joined the Board of Directors and every other month, his management staff volunteers at the House and cooks a breakfast for the residents. He also uses his marketing and social media skills to get other dealerships involved.
Three-year old Sherrell was born with a congenital heart defect – hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She had her first open heart surgery when she was 10 days old. Her family has stayed at the Ronald McDonald House four times since Sherrell was born.
Staying at the Ronald McDonald House means a great deal to mom, Lekeisha Peterson. She can relax, shower and have a meal in a comfortable setting and not worry about driving back and forth every day.
Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where Sherrell receives her medical care, only has one shower for parents to use and sleeping in a recliner is not as comfy as the Ronald McDonald House beds.
“The House provides everything you need and the volunteers and staff are very nice,” said Lekeisha. “You can bring food and store it in the refrigerator for the rare days when a meal is not available.”
Lekeisha said that staying at the House is a big cost savings all around. “It would have been 100 times harder if I didn’t have a room at the Ronald McDonald House.”
Natasha Steele was having a good first-time pregnancy and then things went wrong. She was taken to the ER at Hurley Medical Center in Flint where doctors told her she had an erupted placenta. If she had been an hour later, it would have been fatal for her and the baby.
Little Keegan Steele was born and Natasha was out of the woods. Unfortunately, Keegan was born
at 30 weeks and had to be resuscitated at birth. On the third day of Keegan’s life, he was diagnosed
with a category 3 brain bleed that escalated to a category 6. In one month he had two brain surgeries.
Natasha’s social worker at Hurley told her about the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Keegan was being transferred to Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and the family needed affordable and close quarters.
“We were overwhelmed when we arrived at the House, “ said Natasha. “It really is a home away
from home. It makes it easier being around people who are in the same circumstances, and it is a lot closer, just a short walk to the hospital for us all. If we were still at Hurley, it would be a 25 minute drive to see Keegan. It’s much less stressful not to have to drive back and forth. It’s also great to come back to the House, take a shower and sometimes it’s midnight when we get back, and we can go to the fridge for food.”
Natasha, her husband and mother are already giving back to the Ronald McDonald House. They have made three meals for families staying at the house. She and other House guests are already talking about what more they can do to give back for what they have received.
And it’s great for Keegan, too. He has his mom, dad and grandmother at his bedside.
A Family’s Story of Hope, Love, Faith and Miracles!
Baby Joseph was just 12 days old when he had his very first heart surgery. A mere four months later, in mid April 2008, he had his second surgery. Baby Joseph was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which is a defect of the heart that affects the left side of the heart, including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve. The baby’s heart is underdeveloped. This heart defect is usually fatal within the first days or months or life unless it’s treated. It was lucky for baby Joseph, that the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Michigan diagnosed his disease immediately.
Since his surgeries, the doctors told his parents that only two times in their history, with babies diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, have they seen growth on the left side of a baby’s heart. Little Joseph is one of the lucky two to see growth on the left side of his heart. The doctors told the family it was miraculous!
On a chilly, Michigan winter’s day, February 9, 2008, Chris Craig and Sarah Jurkiw, welcomed to the world, baby Olivia. The engaged couple had looked forward to this beautiful day and hoped for a miracle.
Baby Olivia was diagnosed (before her birth at 19 weeks) with DiGeorge Syndrome, which is the deletion of the 22nd chromosome that causes a heart defect. Mom Sarah worried for 9 months, knowing that her little baby daughter would have to have open heart surgery almost immediately after birth.
Shortly after Olivia’s birth, Chris and Sarah made the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, their ‘home away from home’. They hoped that their stay would be brief, but shortly after arriving, they knew the Detroit Ronald McDonald House would be a real life saver for them.
At six weeks old, baby Olivia had major open heart surgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Chris and Sarah were told that this would just be one of several heart surgeries, because every time baby Olivia grew, they would have to perform another surgery.
While undergoing the first surgery, her doctor discovered that Olivia would have to have a heart transplant, but would have to wait until she was a full 7 pounds.
While the anxious parents waited for Olivia to grow bigger and stronger, the doctors discovered that her liver was enlarged. They performed another surgery, opening up the abdominal wall.
After the abdominal surgery, the couple had a quiet summer, staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit and going back and forth from the hospital. That summer at the House, they made friends with other parents, staff and volunteers all the while eating home-cooked meals almost every day.
Olivia was on a 24-hour I.V., as her body was healing and getting prepared for a new heart. They waited for 5 months and 1 day to receive a tiny, little heart for baby Olivia. The transplant was successful.
However, she had to be placed on an Ecmo machine helped to filter baby Olivia’s blood until she was able to get off of the ventilator.
Finally on October 23, 2008. Sarah, Chris and their baby, Olivia were discharged from the hospital. They returned to their home in Utica, Michigan.
After a routing visit on December 31, 2008, the doctors found a heart arrhythmia and immediately placed her on medication. While at the hospital, she developed 3 infections.
Sarah and Chris, once again, used the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit as their ‘home away from home’.
She was finally released on February 6, 2009 and went home to celebrate her first birthday.
Then on February 18, 2009, baby Olivia stopped eating. Sarah and Chris returned to Children’s Hospital. Olivia was very ill and the doctors did not expect her to make it.
Day by day, baby Olivia grew strong and on March 4, 2009, she was taken off of the ventilator. On March 7, 2009, Olivia had to be placed back on the ventilator and the doctors decided that a tracheotomy would be the best option for the baby. After the tracheotomy on March 11, 2009, baby Olivia is expected to make a full recovery.
Sarah and Chris urge everyone to open up their hearts and give a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day donation to the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. If it weren’t for the Ronald McDonald House, they would not have had the strength needed, to help baby Olivia heal and return to their home.
Steve and Deanna Postighone and their two daughters, Odette and Emily, have made the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, their home since December 17, 2007. They’ve only made it back to their real home, on and off, for a total of three weeks since their arrival. Both of them agree that the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit is a Godsend.
“We would not have been able to cope with all of the stress without the help, love and support from the other families and the staff of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit We will never forget the House and we hope that you continue to give your financial support.” Steve and Deanna Postighone