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Amanda and Anthony Zari had watched their son, Ashton, now 7, deal with illness for a long time. Around his third birthday, a urinary tract infection escalated into bilateral reflux that damaged his kidneys. It’s an irreversible condition that requires multiple hospital visits at Nationwide’s Children Hospital and several stays at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
Eventually, Ashton will need a kidney transplant.
“The goal is to keep him off dialysis and off the transplant list for as long as we can,” said Amanda, who has two other children, Addison, 4, and Alex, 16 months.
Amanda, a teacher who had to quit her job to care for Ashton and her family, is a frequent visitor at the House with her three children, making friends out of hospital peers and family out of House volunteers and staff.
“Alex learned how to crawl here, walk here, Ashton had his stabndardized testing for school here. All of alex’s major things have happened here. It really has served as a second home for us,” said Amanda. “These people are like my family. To see how many families are helped. It’s just awesome.”
Ashton felt the same way. Just before his fourth birthday, Ashton’s “Birthday Wish” project was born. Initially, his goal was pretty steep.
“When we asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said, ‘I want to give the Ronald McDonald House a million dollars,’” said Amanda. “But we helped him make a more realistic goal. So, we created a GoFundMe page with a goal of $100. That year we raised $500 in two days.”
Amanda and Ashton kept going. Another fundraiser that year earned $1,500, then another $1,500 just before Ashton’s fifth birthday. For his sixth birthday he set a goal of $10,000 and fell just short at $7,500. This year, he set a goal of $10,000 ~ one Amanda thinks he’ll hit easily with all the different fundraisers Ashton leads, along with help from Mom.
“Ashton’s fundraisers are his saving grace,” said Amanda. “It gives him a place to channel all his frustrations and negative energies (about his illness) into something positive. It gives him purpose outside of what hospital procedure he has to do next.”
Would you like to help Ashton hit his $20,000 goal? Head to his website to keep apprised of all the fundraisers he’s hosting and his frequent updates.
Thank you Ashton for all you do for the House!
Julie and Steve Buchanan are parents to five children in southwestern Virginia: Summer, 16; Zachary, 14; Grayson, 12; Jada, 8; and Jazmine, 5.
Their youngest, Jazmine, was born with a birth defect that left a hole in her colon, causing multiple health issues over her young life. For added support, Julie joined a Mom’s group with similar issues as her daughter ~ and that’s when she found out about colorectal specialist Dr. Marc Levitt at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“He is the man,” said Julie, who said the treatment Dr. Levitt has provided has “made the difference as to whether or not (Jazmine) could live a normal life.”
“We wanted to come to the best place and we were blessed to get approved through insurance,” said Julie, adding that, initially, the family stayed in hotels when they came to Columbus. “But when they set us up at the hospital, the Welcome Center told us about the Ronald McDonald House.”
The first time the Buchanan family used the House was in December of 2015, and since then, they’ve stayed at least six more times through Jazmine’s check-ups, surgeries, and other appointments.
“If you’ve got to be away from home, this is the place to be,” said Julie, adding that the people at RMHC of Central Ohio were what made the real difference. “It’s the way the people are; the volunteers. They don’t just bring bubbles; they play bubbles. They interact so closely with (the kids). That’s meant so much; how the volunteers here and the staff have just been so welcoming and kind.”
“She never asks about shots, or surgery; all she talks about is coming to ‘Ronnie Donald’s’ house…I’m thankful for that.”
~ Julie Buchanan on her daughter, Jazmine, 5.
But what really stands out to Julie, is that when Jazmine knows she has to go to the hospital, no matter what the treatment, she doesn’t talk about the hospital ~ she talks about the Ronald McDonald House, or as Jazmine calls it “Ronnie Donald’s.”
“She never asks about shots, or surgery; all she talks about is coming to ‘Ronnie Donald’s’ house,” said Julie. “(The House) is what’s making that go away. (The House) is what’s staying in her mind. I’m thankful for that. Because she’s been through a lot. She’s gone through it. Just to see that this is what she remembers…you don’t want them to remember the bad.”
How do I explain the complexity and generosity of the Ronald McDonald House in one
page? I do not believe it is possible, but I will try to describe its profound impact and nurturing
As a recent graduate, I did not think I would be fortunate enough to find a job that I
was truly passionate about right out of college. However, upon graduation, I was hired at
Nationwide Children’s Hospital to work with the young siblings of patients in the hospital. Over
the past year, I have spent countless hours interacting with children while their precious
brother or sister was staying in the hospital.
One afternoon, I was playing a very intense game
of Monopoly with a sweet 4 year old boy. I was engaging in small conversation during our
game and asked him, “Did you have a long drive to the hospital this morning?” He replied, “No
we walked…and we live in the coolest house you have ever seen.” Of course, this statement
sparked my interest! I asked him, “Well, what makes it so special?” He then went on to say,
“Grace… it has a lego room….a splash pad….so, so, so many cookies every single day…Ohio
State Buckeye stuff… oh! and a movie theatre – me and my brother watch a ton of action
I acknowledged his statement sincerely, but I assumed it was most likely just
a childish exaggeration of where he actually lived. When it was time for pick-up, I told his
mother about our conversation. She teared up and explained to me that they had been living
at the Ronald McDonald House for over two hundred days due to her daughter’s extended
stay in the NICU. Her two other children had started to truly consider it their home. Without
ever walking through the doors of the Ronald McDonald House, I felt entirely connected to
this amazing organization.
During my time spent at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, many of the conversations I
have with families are humbling, and they make a difference in my day and my outlook.
However, my experience with that little boy and his mother really stood out to me. I
immediately wanted to learn more about the mission of the Ronald McDonald House and find
a way to get involved.
A few months later, I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to
work there. At the house, I have been welcomed with warm smiles, friendly encounters, and
impactful stories by employees, volunteers and residents. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of
such a place? What we do at the Ronald McDonald House has a positive impact on more
people than we will ever know, and for that reason, I am truly proud and honored to be a part
of such an amazing organization.
COLUMBUS—Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio is pleased to announce its 2017 “A Toast to Tinseltown” community award winners including NBC4’s Matt Barnes with the Outstanding Red Shoe Society Member Award and Carioti Jewelers Sylvia Carioti with the Outstanding Community Service Award.
“This is always an exciting time of year for us here at the Ronald McDonald House to recognize those individuals and groups who give so much to our families,” said Dee Anders, Executive Director of RMHC. “We have a tremendous network of supporters in this community that we have awarded over the years. This year’s class of inductees is nothing short of amazing and we’re thrilled to honor them.”
2017 honorees include:
Sylvia Carioti, Outstanding Community Supporter – As host of Diamond in the Rough, a major fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House, Sylvia Carioti has shown her passion and commitment to helping children and families in need. Sylvia is a member of the RMHC Board of Trustees, helps Chair our Community Fundraiser Committee, and is a generous donor to many RMHC special events.
The Ladies of Hylant Group, Outstanding Community Supporter – These nine ladies continuously strive to go above and beyond for families at the Ronald McDonald House. From helping with Diamond in the Rough, to making meals for families, hosting fundraisers for the House and volunteering at nearly every special event we host, the Ladies of Hylant Group are true gems and we couldn’t do what we do without them.
Matt Barnes, Outstanding Red Shoe Society Member –Matt Barnes is a much-loved member of The Red Shoe Society. He co-chairs one of Red Shoe’s largest fundraisers, “Dig It for the House,” which raised over $48,000 this year alone. Matt has been an emcee for many of our special events, including “Dig It for the House,” “A Toast to Tinseltown,” and the many “Handbag Hullabaloo” events that we host each year. On top of that, Matt has helped to put Food Truck Friday’s on the map here at the House with his constant support.
Karl Hastenstab, Outstanding Volunteer – Karl Hasenstab has been an integral part of the RMHC Team for over a decade. In his role as Project Executive at Continental Building Company, Karl has overseen each building project at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. He is our go-to for any building related needs. From coordinating a donation of window replacement at the Ronald McDonald House, to dealing with wood replacement, to plumbing projects, Karl is always ready at a moment’s notice to support our mission. Karl’s commitment to the House is seen physically and felt emotionally.
Telhio Credit Union, Outstanding Corporate Supporter – Telhio Credit Union is one of the most crucial partners to RMHC of Central Ohio. Over the past five years, they have donated well over $100,000 through cause marketing campaigns. In addition, they have played a vital role in growing awareness and giving through the RMHC Vehicle Donation Program by sponsoring advertising campaigns and building relationships with the local auto dealer community. Leslie Bumgarner, Telhio CEO, sits on the RMHC of Central Ohio Board and chairs the Marketing & Communications Committee for the Board. Their support is key to the success of our charity.
Steve Casciani, The Vickie Easterday Spirit of Community Award – Steve Casciani is one of the most kind, compassionate, and caring supporters that the Ronald McDonald House has ever known. His love for the mission of caring for children and families shows in all of the ways he steps up to help provide more nights of rest to children and families in need. Steve is a member of the RMHC Emeritus Board, as well as a co-chair of the “RMHC Joe Mortellaro Golf Classic.” Steve embodies the spirit of our beloved Vickie Easterday in all of the many ways he cares for his Ronald McDonald House family.
The honorees will receive their awards during an official presentation at this year’s “A Toast to Tinseltown,” Friday, Oct. 13, at The Ivory Room in Miranova, presented by the Columbus Red Shoe Society in conjunction with the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
All proceeds and ticket sales from the event go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Tickets for the “Hollywood Gets Spooky” event can be purchased online here: http://rmhc-centralohio.org/event/a-taste-of-tinseltown-hollywood-gets-spooky/
For more information contact Senior Director of Communications Ryan Wilkins at 614-227-3768.
The Trans Siberian Orchestra(TSO) announced its highly-anticipated Winter Tour 2017 will be returning to Columbus! Over the past 20-plus years, Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become a critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum, musical powerhouse, and its annual winter tours a beloved, multi-generational holiday tradition. 2017’s tour, a completely updated presentation of TSO’s unforgettable “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” is set to begin on November 16th and will visit more than 60 cities, for 100-plus performances, before concluding on December 30th in Columbus, Ohio!
As in all previous years, a portion of every ticket sold benefits select local charities, including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. To date, more than $13 million has been distributed from TSO to worthy charities all across North America. Tickets go on sale Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.
See the full press release here:
For 27 weeks, Brittany Mullins pregnancy had gone perfectly. No signs of trouble—just smooth sailing for her and husband, Chance, as they eagerly awaited the coming birth of their first child, Asher, a boy, in the Gallipolis, Ohio, area.
But then, a sudden increase in the size of Brittany’s baby bump and pre-term contractions sent the concerned parents to the hospital.
“We got an ultrasound and found out there was fluid on his abdomen,” said Brittany. “We weren’t sure what was wrong. There were a lot of scary diagnoses.”
Four short weeks later, the extra fluid caused Asher to be born prematurely at 31 weeks. He lived his first four weeks of life at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, before being transferred to the NICU at Riverside Methodist Hospital.
“He was diagnosed with a posterior urethral valve, which meant urine wasn’t draining correctly, causing the fluid on his abdomen,” said Brittany. “He had surgery at one month old and his prognosis is good.”
Brittany said it was the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room that kept her and her family going during the tough time.
“I couldn’t imagine driving two hours back and forth to see him,” said Brittany of the House for Asher’s first four weeks at Nationwide Children’s. “It was so helpful to have a place to shower and eat. Plus, I have an immune disorder so I have a specific diet. And the family kitchens helped keep me from getting sick while I was there.”
When Asher was transferred to Riverside to a bed for more critical babies, it was the new Family Room that helped her and her family.
“Having the family room allowed me to move in with Asher and breastfeed him,” said Brittany. “It’s allowed me to stay here and have a shower and eat. It’s been such a blessing to us.”
Brittany said it’s the little things that the Ronald McDonald House and Family Room offer that keep families going.
“When your baby is in the NICU, fighting for his life, you forget the little things,” said Brittany. “And to have people there supporting you and making it available to just be clean and to eat makes a difference. It made all the difference in his care and his discharge time.”
Brittany has just one thing to say to all the donors who made the Ronald McDonald Family Room possible: “You have changed lives by making the Family Room available. It is of the utmost importance in our lives that we can express to them how thankful we are.”
I was first introduced to Nationwide Children’s in my clinical as a nursing student. Through my experiences in the hospital I learned very quickly how much the Ronald McDonald house does for the patient with 5 appointments in one day, the confused sibling, and the exhausted parent who’s just trying to keep up with it all. Seeing first hand from the nurse’s point of view how much the house does for families in need encouraged me to get involved. I will continue working at the RMHC, however, because of the infectious positivity that surrounds the people who run it. Every volunteer and employee here is an integral part of why the house is so effective in helping these families and I am so glad to be given the chance to be a part of it!
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio is excited to offer a brand new event for you and your little ones!
Pirates & Princesses is a swashbuckling good time for young children ages 10 and under to “walk the plank,” enjoy a photo booth, treasure hunt, kiss a frog (not a real one…ewww!), play Magic Wand Toss or Dig for Buried Treasure, and dress like pirates and princesses for a day in the Ivory Room of Miranova.
And, bonus—valet parking for the event is FREE!
You and your child (or children!) can come anytime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Sunday, June 11. Stay as long as you like for additional activities including, face painting, tattoos, Pin-the-Kiss on the frog, a fishing game, craft corner, tiara making, tea cup decorating, a dance floor, and a movie-viewing area.
Upgrade you and your little one to V.I.P. tickets (that’s Very Important Princess or Very Important Pirate!) to include pirate or princess training, hair and make-up studio, and a super cool Treasure Hunt.
An online auction will also be available as is a dress shopping area for you and your littlest princess, housing the finest gear royalty could ever dream.
Parents and their little ones will enjoy Cameron Mitchell catering that will make even the simplest kid’s cuisine a culinary delight fit for a pirate and princess!
The very best part of the whole event is that money raised, even from ticket sales, benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, serving families with seriously ill children at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other area hospitals. Money donated to our organization, including through events like Pirates & Princesses, allows us to provide a home for families whose children are going through a medical difficulty.
And if you want to go one step further for our organization, after buying your ticket to the event, sponsor a family at the House to come to the party, too! You’ll see first-hand how your generosity is changing lives at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
Thank you for your continued support!