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By: Maria Slayman
My experience with the Ronald McDonald House is enriched by the connections made with the guests, volunteers and staff of the house. My journey started as a Volunteer in 2012 and now I am working full time as a Family Service Liaison. I am fortunate to be at the house nearly every day to witness how love works. Sharing our hearts and stories shows just how important we can be to each other. Each of us has the ability to help another. We just have to be open to the opportunity and let it happen. Here is an example that was shared with me recently by one of our guests.
Upon checking out of the house, a mother and father shared their story of hometown support. Their daughter is fighting cancer and her community is fighting right along beside her. She hasn’t been able to go to school lately, nor take the school bus. Her classmates have missed her. Seeing their struggle, the bus driver came up with a way that they could support Sara. He placed a box on the dashboard of the bus with a sign collecting money for Sara. He informed the students that any money donated would go to help Sara’s family. On Monday a little girl asked the bus driver how long he would keep the box on the dashboard of the bus. He told her that he would collect until the end of the week on Friday. On Tuesday she got on the bus with a big smile and put $2 in the box. She showed the bus driver her smile with one tooth missing and said that the money she deposited was what she found under her pillow from the tooth fairy overnight. She insisted that the bus driver keep the box available until Friday…she had one more tooth that was loose. She was working hard on getting it loosened in time!
This is just one example of the many ways that the community has supported our guests and the Ronald McDonald House. Big and small, contributing both time, energy and money. Just be open to the possibility of showing you care. It may not be really obvious at first, but even a small kindness goes a long way. A smile can send someone off on their day in a positive way. Each day I am blessed to see the many ways that people help each other. We are so grateful for all of the many contributions made by you and the Central Ohio community.
By: Beth Fleshman
For the past few years, my volunteer experience at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House has been different than most. I have volunteered my time yet never I’ve made a bed, served a meal, or cleaned much of anything. I cut hair. By trade and as a volunteer at RMHC. At first, this sounds like such a minute detail for a family that is staying at the House and I suppose that’s true. But there is something good to be said though about taking a little time out for yourself. I believe that goes for everyone and is part of why I chose this profession in the first place. There are so many instances where a family comes to the Ronald McDonald House in a hurry and doesn’t have time to get a haircut (amongst other lesser essentials) before they have to rush to the hospital. I get new moms that just want a pick-me-up amidst the change to their normal routine. I get siblings of sick kids that need a haircut before rushing back home to school.
That’s why I love the House. They think of the small things.
Of course, a haircut isn’t going to solve any of life’s great problems, but for that half hour, you get to feel like you’re doing something for yourself. You get to just sit and relax and just be a person getting a haircut, in a salon. It’s hard enough to think about venturing into a city that you’re most likely not familiar with, (and not wanting to stray too far away) without wanting to think about finding a place to get a haircut. When there are so many other things going on to keep everyone busy, it’s nice to know that things like this don’t have to be worried about. There are so many things that are taken care of under one roof, which makes the House and its amazing volunteers something truly incredible to experience. The relationships that I’ve built with some of the guests that have stayed here over the past 4 years are immeasurable. I have gotten to talk with some amazing people that are going through some of the toughest times that anyone could face. I can gladly say that I have made friends coast to coast throughout my time as a volunteer.
(The Thirty One Gifts Spa located on the 1st floor of the Columbus Ronald McDonald House)
These people are so encouraging. Their strength is incredible. Their hope is inspiring. Listening to their stories is something I truly see as an honor. I love what I do. I’m very thankful to be involved in the efforts that the Ronald McDonald House has set forth to do what they can to accommodate their guests. If I could encourage you to do anything from this post, it’s to consider volunteering. The work done there is incredible and the time spent there volunteering is valued. The people you meet from the staff to the guests will enhance your life for the better, and in turn, you will be returning the favor.
Don’t forget about the small things.
Beth works at Studio H Salon in Grandview. If you are interested in booking an appointment, please call 614-485-0523 or stop in at 1279 Grandview Ave. Columbus OH 43212 salonstudioh.com
By: Holly Robinson
Where to begin to talk about the Ronald McDonald house and our history is a lot harder than I thought.
We are the Robinson Family and have used Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio for 17 years. So in the next few paragraphs, I will be summing up 17 years of our family’s life. Our daughter, Becca, was born 9 weeks premature. We started at the Ronald McDonald House in Akron, Ohio and for the last 10 years we’ve been here in Columbus.
Our experiences in the beginning were more terrifying than they are now. We were told our baby girl probably didn’t have a brain stem, would repeatedly stop breathing which led her to have to be revived more times than I can remember. The NICU was always able to keep us up to date on what was going on and the Ronald McDonald House was always able to be our home and place of comfort.
For the first several months I didn’t ever leave hospital. When it was time for my husband to return to work, he was still able to visit and then sleep at RMHC. RMHC provided a place where we could shower, eat, take naps and sometimes even allow for one of us to get a full night sleep while the other sat with Becca.
Now the Ronald McDonald House takes on a whole new meaning for us. We live about an hour and a half away from the hospital and all of the specialists (including Pulmonology, Neurology, Urology, Nephrology, Behavioral Health, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, and Orthopedics) that we see at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, at least once a month. We stay at the House in Columbus, the evening before those days and sometimes the evening after. We usually try to get all of our appointments scheduled for just one day and then sleep at the House so we can save the 3 hour round trip and completely tiring out Becca.
As our way of giving back to what we call our “second” home, we try to volunteer our time and do fundraisers for this great organization because we would be lost without the outpouring love, support, and resources for our family. We cannot say thank you enough times to The Ronald McDonald House.
17 years is a long time to depend on something as important as they are! Just for a quick update on what 17 years of wonderful care at the hospital and RMHC has done for our daughter. She is so successful and in all Honors classes as a High School Junior and attends college as a post-secondary student. She drives, performs in plays, sings, dances, plays and marches in band, is in National Honor Society and many much more! She still has to be seen about once a month and takes about 10 medications a day but she perseveres through it all and can do anything she sets her mind to. Her future plans are to double major in Music Therapy and Special Education when she attends college.Her future wouldn’t be possible with The Ronald McDonald House! We are so blessed and so thankful for this organization.
By: Frances Krumholtz
My time at RMHC so far has been brief, but the experience profound.
Here, in a way I haven’t experienced before, I watch families find each other and find themselves. I see heroic kids fighting battles they never chose. I witness equally heroic parents and siblings support, advocate, and do all of the tough work of caregiving. I catch these families returning to the simple joys of their relationships: sharing a meal, reading a book, or playing with Legos.
I joined the RMHC staff in late October as our Annual Gifts Associate. This means I get to help people invest and make an impact by donating to RMHC. In addition to the incredible volunteer support from our community, donors to RMHC keep our “House with a heart” humming.
Funds raised for seemingly unglamorous needs – cleaning supplies, dinnerware, new bed linens – serve as a catalyst for keeping families close. When donors care for the most essential needs of our guests, we can create extraordinary experiences and the simple comforts of home.
As we enter our 35th anniversary month, I want to celebrate all that the House has accomplished with an eye to the future. Now serving over 4,500 families each year, RMHC continues to function as a haven for our guests facing extraordinary circumstances. Our Friends of the Families have taken a simple but significant step towards providing reliable ongoing support for our families. These folks have set up a recurring monthly donation to the House – the easiest way to care for our families year-round.
To learn more about joining Friends of the Families, click here. Why give $35? You are more powerful than you know, and you have the power to transform our House into a home. Join our family and help keep this “House with a heart” humming.
By: Mikaela Hunt
In my world, it’s a moment of quiet when there’s no work to be done and I have a few minutes to ponder the possibilities of life, which rarely happens! As a mom of two young kids with no family in town as “support staff” during busy seasons, moments, or for life in general, it’s hard to take a break. Between Taekwondo classes, hockey lessons, Cub Scouts, swim lessons and more, those moments to pause and do something that I want to do have to be stolen. But over the last couple of years, I’ve been realizing that we must joyfully claim those moments for our own physical and mental health. We need to steal them every chance we get! It doesn’t have to be every day, but we need to seek out moments to move and be mindful during the week.
As a small business owner and co-host of The Momcast (which you can find on iTunes), life is busier than it ever was when I worked in TV news. In the last year, that means my health has taken a back seat on the priority list. But at the start of 2017 I made a pledge to change that. I won’t call it a resolution. I’ll call it a goal. My goal is to take breaks that allow me to move and be mindful.
For me, that means starting to swim at a local Y to offset some of the mild osteoarthritis that I have in one knee—way too early. Moving in the water again, feeling like a kid, makes it feel like less of a workout and more of a therapeutic moment. Taking a break. I’ve also started taking some Dance Fusion classes where I know everyone’s fitness level is at a different level, so I can bring the intensity that works for my body and a joy to the movement that hasn’t always been there before when I “workout.” It also means finding activities with my family that get me moving, out into fresh air even on cold Ohio days, like snow tubing. That was a 10,000 plus step day on my Fitbit and we laughed all the way through it!
The MommyMile is another option I’m fitting into this new mindset of taking a break to be mindful and to move more. It happens at Polaris Fashion Place on May 7th and I would love to do the 5K if my knee is up to it, but there’s also a 1 Mile option that works too—all to get moving for the morning and celebrate being a Mom! It also benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, and that’s another reason I love being involved. I’m moving AND mindful of what my race fee goes towards.
Champagne, roses, a jog with hundreds of other moms and some swag don’t make up my normal day. But they will on May 7th. Those stolen moments, moments of joy that I can fully embrace and be healthy within, are perfect for this season of life! Register for MommyMile here.
By: Matt Barnes
Approximately 250 women. All hoping for a chance to win one of 30 designer handbags. And I’m the 30-year-old man standing in the way. It’s a dangerous job but someone has to do it.
I have had the privilege of being the emcee for 4 Handbag Hullabaloo events at 3 different locations and each and every time, I am amazed by the energy and generosity by the people there. The energy makes sense, because Handbag Hullabaloo is so much fun. Each raffle game brings about that bit of suspense, as each and every person hopes and wishes their game board will be the winner. It’s always entertaining to see the winner of the bag celebrate –in fact, one time, I was nearly tackled on stage as one woman hugged me for randomly picking her number!
But it’s the generosity aspect of this event that keeps me coming back. The event space is always packed. The attendees are always happy and joyful. But most of all, they are always ready to give. The money that has been raised through this event in its short time is remarkable and to know that its money makes a real impact on the lives of families who truly need it warms my heart, and I’m sure theirs too.
If you’ve never been to a Handbag Hullabaloo, I hope you will plan on going to one in 2017. If you have already been to one, then I don’t have to convince you to come on back. It is proof that fundraising can truly be FUN.
A list of all of our Handbag Hullabaloo events can be found on our events page.
By Nancy Thulin
I chose to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house because I love being with people. Not only are the guests at the House very pleasant and incredibly thankful for each and every volunteer that steps foot through the door but the staff and other volunteers are too. Every staff member and co-volunteer that I interact with on a daily basis are so fun and positive. The Ronald McDonald House is a very uplifting place to volunteer. Thankfully, the reason I volunteer here is not because my family has had to utilize the House. I volunteer out of thankfulness that we have not had to experience what so many of our guests have or experience some of the situations they have been in. I look forward to my time spent at the House and am a firm believer that you get back much more than you give. I encourage you to come donate your time with me and all of the other fabulous volunteers but you are unable to donate your time, there are so many other ways to give back to aid in the success of this wonderful place. I encourage you to explore these options and make of the most of your experience here.
Pictured above are “Rockstar Volunteers” Nancy and Dawn
For more information about volunteering at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, please visit: http://rmhc-centralohio.org/get-involved/volunteer/
By: Carly Damman
Families are a gift. They provide us with love, comfort, support, wisdom, guidance, belonging and joy. The family unit is even more important here at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Families are the reason we do what we do each day. Our goal is to keep families close during a time in life where things don’t seem very joyful or comforting. The Columbus Ronald McDonald House is that place where families can focus on a renewed sense of love and belonging in the midst of heartache and suffering.
Similarly, it’s crucial to find encouragement and support in running through the love of family. Sometimes this family means close friends that become family after miles and miles of training with them. Sometimes, in the case of Brian Konopka’s story, it means real family.
Team RMHC, our Ronald McDonald House charity running team, is gearing up for another great season as members train for a 5k, 10k or half marathon. Brian, Mikey, Jessica and Danielle have decided to make training as part of Team RMHC a family affair. Brian, a longtime Team RMHC member and 5k event organizer convinced his kids, Mikey, Jessica and Danielle, to join him and train for their very first half marathon together.
What is the driving force that keeps them motivated? Love for their sweet Brady. Here is just a snippet of Brian and his family’s story:
“Our lives changed 4 years ago. Our 4 year old Grandson was diagnosed with Leukemia. Quickly we learned as much about the disease and treatments as we could. I am a person of action. I try to take care of others. I could not take the chemo and radiation treatments myself. I told myself that if he could be brave and strong for this, I could surely run a 1/2 marathon. The Ronald McDonald House was there for my family when they needed to be close to Brady. They are there every single day for families who need to be close to their sick child in the hospital..” –Brian Konopka, Team RMHC member
Life’s not always easy. Whether fighting a serious illness or training for a long distance race, the journey includes countless road bumps, moments of heartache and seasons of doubt. However, through it all, the love of family remains.
To learn more about Team RMHC, click here.
By: The Leaders of BobcaThon
Three years ago, a group of students set out on a mission to bring a dance marathon to Ohio University’s campus. Fueled by passion for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio and guided by a fearless leader, Carly Damman, those students worked day in and day out to make BobcaThon’s first ever dance marathon a success. Three years later, Bobcats are still dancing through the hours to support this charity every February and stand for those that can’t stand for themselves. Three years later, we are proud to say that we have raised over $60,000 for RMHC and you can help make that number even higher.
A typical dance marathon in the life of a dance marathon starts with an early wake up call. Greeted by morale captains dressed in crazy costumes, dancers are welcomed with open arms to their team of fellow Bobcats that they will stand with for the next twelve hours. Their morning begins with dancing, cheers and chants, family stories and fun entertainment – and the festivities continue throughout the day. Acapella groups, kids fashion shows, flashback 90’s games, and scavenger hunts fill the hours of the day as students bond in their love for the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. And before they know it, it’s 11:30pm. The last thirty minutes of the dance marathon are filled with more stories of hope, inspiring moments, and most importantly, a call to action to stay engaged. The final number of money raised for the year is revealed to all of the students, families, and staff in attendance and total solidarity in this important cause is achieved. It is a moment unlike anything else.
In the last three years, BobcaThon has effected over 1,000 Bobcats, families, and community members in moments like the ones mentioned above. We have raised awareness, funds, and grown love for RMHC on Ohio University’s campus, and there is no slowing us down. This year alone, we are working to surpass our fundraising from the last two years and reach $50,000. If we reach our goal, we will have cumulatively raised over $100,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
Today, we ask you to support us. Support the students at Ohio University that will be standing for twelve hours straight on February 11th. Support the leaders of BobcaThon that have worked all year to create a positive experience. Support the families in their time of need. Support the house that love built.
Starting on Tuesday, January 24th at 7 p.m. and ending on today, January 25th at 7 p.m., BobcaThon will be hosting an effort called “5k in a Day.” In this effort, we will work to raise $5,000 in just 24 hours for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Visit our fundraisering page and click to DONATE HERE!
By: Connie McKinney
When you are expecting, losing all amniotic fluid is the last thing you think will happen before its time. My water broke at 19 weeks (PPROM – preterm premature rupture of membrane) and from that day on, our lives changed in more ways than we could ever imagine. Everything came to a halt and I was immediately put on bed rest at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California. 40 days later, at 24 weeks, we welcomed Bryce Andrew McKinney (B.A.M.) into the world, weighing in at 1lb 3oz on 11/12/15. It was a rocky road in the NICU but they were able to save his life and stabilize Bryce despite the many issues that come along with such a premature birth.
We eventually needed a tracheostomy, G-tube, and hernia repair surgeries so we had to transfer to a hospital that had those facilities. In March, we were transferred to UCLA’s NICU. After Bryce reached 7 months in June, we were moved to the PICU at UCLA. Howver, the PICU environment was not suitable for a preemie like Bryce. They didn’t know how to manage ventilator settings for a baby with BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia – lung disease as result of mechanical ventilation). As a result, Bryce’s condition worsened quickly and UCLA was unable to help.
Thanks to a Facebook group, a fellow mother with a baby with the same lung disease Bryce had informed us of the only BPD unit in the nation at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a daunting thought to move an unstable child to a hospital we had never seen, more than 2,000 miles away. We were approved by insurance for transfer on October 28, 2016, and we were able to stabilize him enough for the flight. Nationwide Children’s BPD unit specializes in understanding how to manage kids with this disease. We are now at 42% oxygen and his saturations are in the high 90s to 100. His CO2 levels are normal and we are weaning off medications. In addition to this huge improvement, we are now able to work on developmental aspects that will help him in his future. We’ve celebrated his 1st birthday since coming here, a huge milestone, and he is now 17 lbs and 5 oz!
There are many unsung heroes that have contributed to helping us get to where we are but the one I’d like to highlight with big flashing lights is Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. I’ve always known the charity existed but I never fully understood what they were all about until I came in contact with their services. I’m sure most people never think about when they might need a place like RMHC but it was a major eye opening experience for me to see what they provided me and my family. Moving from California to Ohio with just a carry-on sized bag and leaving your home and job with very little notice, sounds crazy but it was possible for me without a worry because of the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. I have a place to stay, a place to shower and a place to have a meal. A place that truly feels like a home away from home.
The facility here is amazingly stacked with multiple guest rooms, family rooms, entertainment and movie rooms, laundry rooms, a gym and top notch kitchen facilities that are all indicative of the many generous people and organizations out there that have answered the call to the needs of families dealing with very trying times. We are floored by the volunteers that dedicate their time and energy to people they do not know. Whether it be the regular house staff or the countless volunteers (individuals, families, companies and organizations) that sign up to make meals for guests and perform services to give families some respite, or even that person that walks in off the street to drop off their several year collection of soda pop tabs (which I personally witnessed) that help pay for the utilities, they all contribute to making it easier for the family members of so many brave fighters.
We are so grateful for the Ronald McDonald House and words do not do justice the immense need their help fills. It is truly humbling and we feel so much gratitude toward this organization. It is because of RMHC and the people who contribute to it, that we’re able to be by our son’s side 2,000+ miles away from home without worrying about anything but his care. That gift is priceless. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!