By Bryant Somerville, WBNS 10TV
There are times we feel complete. Other times, most of us know the feeling of a missing piece.
For Heather Vincent, that piece is normalcy.
“We don’t have normal,” she said. “We don’t know what normal is.”
When her son Jackson was 2-1/2, he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He went through all of his treatments and eventually was cancer-free for about two-and-a-half years until it came back.
“And then we found out in January he relapsed,” she said.
Jackson is now 6. Lately, the Ronald McDonald House has been a second home.
“We were here 51 days,” Vincent said. “We got to go home last week and now we’re back.”
Back to the hospital. Back to the treatments. Back to the lack of normalcy.
But there is a piece of normalcy, as small as it might seem, that Jackson carries with him.
Jackson loves Lego. In the past year, Vincent says he’s built upwards of 40 sets at his house. At the hospital, while doing treatments, he builds.
“Yesterday, we sat and built Legos all through chemo, so we were there for three hours and I don’t think he thought about chemo once,” she said. “He just focused on the Legos and didn’t realize he sat in the bed for three hours. He just was building Legos.”
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center, knowing many children can’t make it to Easton, decided to take the fun to the Ronald McDonald House Thursday.
“Yeah, they bumped up his chemo this morning so he could come back and make it here so he could do Legos,” Vincent said.
It’s a much-deserved distraction.
Maxx Davidson is the master model builder for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Columbus.
“You get to bring some smiles to kids’ faces who might not get to have an opportunity for an event like this all the time,” he said.
An opportunity to be normal.
“It almost takes you back to normal for a little bit,” Vincent said. “Takes you out of the cancer world for a while.”
This week’s blog is a “thank you” note to all who have made The Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital such a success in it’s first year. Since opening in July last year, the room has served over 500 families, including more than 7700 family members, for nearly 2300 hours. Those are hours spent taking a break from the patient’s room nearby and taking an opportunity to grab a bite to eat, get a cup of coffee, doing some laundry, taking a quick shower, relieving a little stress playing a video game, or just relaxing at the kitchen table.
Here are just some of the recent comments folks have given after using the family room:
“So thankful for this room. My second son was in the NICU before you had this room and I wished there was a place that my husband could have brought my other child and I could have visited. It would’ve been fun for my son too. My third son was in the NICU three months ago and this room helped so much. I stayed at the hospital with my newborn for 2 weeks and going up to this room even to just shower was a nice break from reality, even if it was only 30 minutes.”
“Loved the NICU family night. Glad to have the ability to bring my food to the hospital and have a space to keep it cold and heat it up. Saved me money.”
“It was awesome to be able to sit down and talk to parents who were going through the same thing. It was calming and relaxing to talk to other parents.”
So “thank you” to all of the donors and volunteers who have made this special room possible and who continue to help us keep families close. Thanks to our partners at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital for making the room possible. Thanks to the hospital’s employees & volunteers as well as the staff at Nationwide Children’s NICU at Riverside who all make sure families take advantage of this amazing space. And thanks to The Blue Jackets Foundation, The Lady Jackets, Worthington Industries, and Safelite AutoGlass for making Central Ohio’s first Ronald McDonald Family Room possible right from the start.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room is always looking for volunteers. If you would like to get more information about volunteering at the family room inside Riverside Methodist Hospital, email Vicki.Chappelear@rmhc-centralohio.org.
By Keiana Mitchell, Community Partners Associate
While the House still seems new to me, it also feels like home. My first introduction to the House was in 2013 after I had helped renovate the exercise room. All of the staff seemed genuinely grateful and appreciative of the work we had done. A couple of weeks later, they sent a hand written thank you card, which I thought was endearing and I pinned it on the board at my desk.
Fast forward to 2015, and I was looking for a career change. I had worked in the non-profit world for a few years and I wanted to find a place where I felt like I could better impact the people I served. I saw a position posted at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House and remembered the thank you card and the people I worked with and thought I should apply. After meeting with all of the great staff, I just knew that this was the place for me.
I started my journey with the House in March and have loved every minute of it. There is no better feeling than walking the halls of the house and seeing the smiling faces of families despite what may be going on with their child at the hospital. Whether it’s a short conversation at lunch about Marvel comics or playing peek-a-boo with a little one, there is no greater feeling knowing that I can make a difference.
I often try to explain to my friends and family how the House has changed my perspective on what I do every day. The House is a great example of how you can make a difference in your community. From a smile, playing basketball with the little ones in our backyard, cooking a meal or brownies, you really do have the power to make a difference. I am lucky that I have the opportunity to do that every day.