In 2008, 4-year-old Innomama Dickson and her mother, Hilda, were visiting relatives in Atlanta from their home in Africa when little Innomama suddenly became ill. She was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer. While she was being treated, Innomama and Hilda stayed at the Gatewood Ronald McDonald House for six-weeks until Innomama was given the okay to return home to Africa.
Four-year-old Riley Clements received a kidney transplant in November 2009 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. He and his twin sister Regan also stayed at the new 50-bedroom Gatewood Ronald McDonald House near Emory University with their mother while Riley was being treated.
It’s an unbearable fact of life that children get sick – sometimes so seriously, they require long hospitalization. I can’t imagine anything worse than your child being hospitalized– except being miles away from home and not having a place to stay while you are going through it.
Thankfully, The Ronald McDonald House is there to provide temporary housing and support services to families of critically ill and injured kids being treated at local hospitals. Last year in Atlanta alone, almost 2,000 families were housed at two Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses. I challenge you to watch the following video and not want to be a part of this great organization.
There are now 98 Ronald McDonald Houses in 30 countries across the world and 169 in the United States, near every major children’s hospital. The average length of stay at a Ronald McDonald House is seven days, and the cost to each family is $20/night– but no family is ever turned away for inability to pay. Almost every night, volunteers prepare and serve dinner for the families. In fact, if you can’t give money, volunteering in the Family Meal Program, the Casserole Club, Baker’s Club, or Breakfast Club is a wonderful way to help out families who are going through a critical time of grief and worry.
I’ve never had to go through the heartache of having a child in the hospital, but one thing I know for sure: To have a welcoming place to stay, surrounded by other families who are also going through the same frightening thing has got to be an extraordinary blessing.
So why not join me in a calorie-free splurge, and Supersize your donation? And remember, a 1- cent donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities will be made for every Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal sold in America from now until December 31, 2010!