Becket was born in a small Indiana town near the Illinois border. He was found to have a heart murmur and taken to an Indianapolis hospital for treatment. Doctors there couldn’t get to the root of the problem, even after surgery and recommended his parents take him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Here, they talk about what they’ve gone through with their young son and their experience with our Ronald McDonald House.
The following is a profile from Nationwide Children’s Hospital spotlighting 13-year-old Andy, one of its Patient Champions for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon next month. Andy and his mom, Carolina, have been coming to our Ronald McDonald House for almost half of his years on earth. While staying at the House, he became a Columbus Blue Jackets fan after catching a few games thanks to free tickets donated by The Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation to the House for families staying with us.
Andy was born via C-Section at 35 weeks. From the moment he was born, he had trouble eating and gaining weight. When Andy turned two, he was diagnosed with Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
After many years of fighting and encountering problems due to his oral aversion, his doctors decided on the implantation of a Gastrostomy button to help maintain his nutrition.
In 2016, Andy was diagnosed with severe Gastroparesis. His doctors decided to change his Gastrostomy tube to a Gastro-Jejunal tube, which then prevented him from eating by mouth. After this diagnosis, his local Gastroenterologist in Oklahoma referred him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Andy and his family travelled from their home in Oklahoma to Columbus where they met with his new physicians and doctors. The team of doctors ran an assortment of tests and the results indicated that Andy was a candidate for the gastric pacemaker. Andy had the pacemaker implanted in March of 2018 and his life changed drastically for the better.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is proud to treat children in 49 U.S. states and 54 foreign countries. Andy and his family have been traveling to Columbus almost monthly for regular checkups with his doctors. “This hospital means hope and for us, and peace of mind that our son is under the best medical care. We are truly grateful for the medical team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” says Carolina, Andy’s mother.
Andy is a huge fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets and NASCAR! He also enjoys playing with his friends, reading books and attending school. He loves to play video games and basketball.
Andy is travelling the distance to get the care he needs.
Easton’s mom, Tania, brought her son to Nationwide Children’s Hospital from Wheeling, West Virginia hospital where he had been on a ventilator with BPD. He was discharged on very high levels of oxygen, but had to be readmitted. That’s when Tania decided to bring Easton to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he made progress and was discharged. Now, Tania and Easton are back in Columbus so Easton can come off of his feeding tube by learning to eat orally. Tania knew she could come back to Columbus because she and Easton would be able to stay at our Ronald McDonald House. Click the image above to watch our interview with Tania and hear her talk about how helpful having the House has been during this trip and previous trips with the whole family.
Expected July 27, Journee Rae Jackson started her life very early on March 27. “My pregnancy started with no concerns or complications, always received a good report with each doctor’s visit,” says her mother, 30-year-old Jayna Jackson of Michigan. Jayna tells her story in a GoFundMe site she set up to help pay medical bills. “Until midway into my second trimester, I found out during my anatomy screening, my cervix was short. At the time, I had no clue what that meant. Early labor never crossed my mind, being that her due date was July 27th it just couldn’t be!” Journee Rae Jackson arrived March 27 weighing 1 lb., 8 oz. as what’s known as a “micro-preemie.” After being transferred from a hospital in Toledo to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Jayna has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. Click the image below to hear Jayna’s heartfelt message to our supporters.
From time to time, we like to share with you – our community including volunteers and donors – messages of gratefulness we receive from family members who have stayed with us.
Today, while I was going through some pictures for a collage I was doing I had come across a picture that was taken last season and it totally had me in tears, we had such a hard time last year with feeding issues, bowel issues and other issues that we had to travel at one of the most busiest times of the year, we seen snow, we met Santa, the Grinch but out of all the things he loved every time we are there he always wants a picture with Ronald McDonald, I remember the first time he took a picture with Ronald he was at his sickest moment, he had his NG tube and we stayed at the RMH in Macon Georgia and it was a blessing to us, and ever since then every time we visit we always have to get a picture with Ronald.
I wanted to share these pictures with you all at your House, and tell you what a major blessing it is to know each and every one of your staff and we are grateful to have a place to call home when we are there. God bless you all… please stay safe and healthy.
-Dawn Elizabeth Hughes, Noah’s mom
My name is Kevin Kramer, proud father of Molly (3), Hattie (2 months), and Huck (2 months) Kramer and with my wife we live in the small town of Celina, Ohio. Unfortunately, all three of my beautiful children have had stays in the hospital, ranging from a few weeks to a couple months. Molly was born with a genetic disorder called Dandy Walker Syndrome. Because of Molly’s genetic disorder, she is more prone to hospital stays. Hattie was born with congenital heart disease and did not fare well with her surgery causing a 60 day stay in Nationwide Children’s Hospital with future follow up surgeries. Huck was born with persistent pulmonary hypertension and spent 13 days in the NICU. All three children have spent time in Nationwide Children’s hospital, some of which occurred in a 3 week time period that saw each of my children in the hospital. Molly and Huck will have many follow up appointments for the remainder of their lives, some ranging from impatient stays while others are outpatient in either Dayton or Columbus.
One of the challenges that we faced as parents, other than the obscure future for two of our children, was the hardship of not being able to be together as a family. With my wife Jess, Molly, and Huck at home while Hattie and I stayed at the hospital, it was comforting to know that the Ronald McDonald House was an option to ease some other difficulties. The RMH eased a financial burden while many hospital bills were pouring in. Without RMH we would have been forced to stay in a hotel that was not as close in proximity to the hospital. Also, the RMH provided countless meals and snacks to keep me energized. Equally as energizing was the comfortable bed and room. At one point I thought that I could “tough it out” by sleeping over at the hospital every night. However, I quickly found that sleep was sparse in the hospital setting and it made me feel foggy and irritable the next day. We faced some very difficult times during Hattie’s time at Nationwide Children’s, including watching my child code, a week on life support, and news about traumatic brain damage. The Ronald McDonald House provided a much needed reprieve through these times. Any parent who has experienced these situations would probably agree that sometimes you need to have a moment to yourself where you can have a good cry. The RMH provided me with this privacy and comfort.
In closing, I would like to tell the volunteers and workers at the Columbus Ronald McDonald house, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your generosity will never be forgotten and that I hope to someday be able to reciprocate the generosity that you have bestowed upon me.
A quick note via social media from longtime guest, Sara Stone:
We live in Oregon! Our home NICU wanted to end Ashton’s life so we flew 2500 miles via medical jet to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. You guys were amazing. My husband needed to rent a U-haul to haul 18 months worth of stuff home and the Ronald McDonald House ouse let him park out back to keep it safe. In the scariest days of my life, I’m so thankful we met lifelong friends at your house.
Mike and I are now just SO thankful Ashton is here today, alive and as rotten as ever 😂💙.
May 17, 2016, the day I never want to forget yet I struggle with the memories of this day. Those who have followed us or been friends with me forever will remember the day the neonatologist went “on record and recommended we end care” that conversation that took place in Ashton’s NICU room, the pain I felt in my chest of my heart actually breaking, the tears that wouldn’t stop and the phone call I had to make to Mike where I could barely get the words out. Him rushing out of work then bursting into tears as he entered Ashton’s room…. since that day it puts literally everything into perspective. As long as it’s Ashton, Momma and Da we have everything in life we need. Today seemed fitting to wear a Superman shirt I bought Ashton 4 years ago that finally fits! As always we are so thankful for the ongoing love you show my baby and our journey!!
A Mother’s Day letter from one of our families to our supporters:
As I sit here tonight, gazing at the wall-mounted television in this room that has become our home-away-from-home, my mind is racing. Bright and early tomorrow morning, our 17-year-old son has chest scans that may once again change our lives forever. Scan anxiety is real and I know tomorrow I will be a wreck.
Although my son and I are hours from home and our family, I still feel like I am home. I close my eyes and count the blessings that the Ronald McDonald House has given us.
My wife and I started this journey, along with the rest of our family, close to three years ago. Our beautiful 15-year-old boy went from being a normal looking teenager to a strangely deformed boy overnight. On Monday, he had a little swelling in his cheek. When he woke up Tuesday, the tumor slid out from behind his cheekbone to appear as a baseball-sized mass. A quick call to his dental specialist assured us that this was just an infection and to enjoy our trip. We would be back home soon enough.
We arrived back home in Parkersburg, West Virginia and Billy was taken for a quick cat scan the first day we returned home. The next morning our family doctor made the call no mother ever wants to hear – “Something is wrong, “ said Dr. Newland calmly. “Billy is having bone loss in his face.” Within hours, we were rushed into the emergency room at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. By midnight Billy’s braces were removed in the ER in order to have an MRI of the mass. The next morning, doctors transferred Billy to the 12th floor cancer unit. We had to break the news to our son – life, as he knew it, would never be the same.
After four nights on the hospital couch and using the public showers, another parent suggested we get a room at the Ronald McDonald House. Two days later, I gave in and we accepted a room. In fact, I think I am sitting in the same room right now.
Do you know what the biggest expense is for a cancer family? The biggest expense is providing yourself with your basic needs while your child receives treatment. After a while, it is more stressful to your teenager for you to be in their room all the time. Hotels are expensive. Renting an apartment simply is not feasible.
The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio has been our saving grace. Front desk Mike cheerfully calls me when he has a room for us for scheduled visits. The night desk staff knows Billy by name and does not question his weird obsession with grabbing snacks at the front desk every time we walk by. If, at the last minute, Missy or I have to trade places on the trip, the office knows and understands that not all families are the same.
Over time, the uneasiness of being away from home has subsided. I no longer require GPS to find the hospital. I also usually remember to have a bag packed and ready. As a cancer mom, you could leave home at a moment’s notice.
Right now Billy’s treatments have slowed down. He just finished up six months of weekly chemo treatments that we had hoped stabilized his cancer. Tomorrow we find out if he has to have more treatments or can live “normally” for a while longer.
RMHC has provided my family with so much. This all-inclusive Home has given us a place to play games, a workspace so I can “work from home”, a room to cry in, a place to just enjoy the silence of the night. Most importantly, RMHC has provided my family with hope for a better future. Hope for more tomorrows. Hope that we can make it through this crazy journey called life.
While one of us stays here with our son, the other is home raising our other children without the added pressure of financial distress. The only thing almost as heart wrenching to a mother watching her son battle cancer is knowing her other children are home without her. RMHC puts some of this distress at ease with its support and home-like atmosphere. Without a doubt, our other children at home will not go without because one of their mothers must be here.
Even during the COVID pandemic, RMHC always provided warm meals and clean rooms. Payment is never expected when we leave. We know we can donate but there is no pressure. We do not know what tomorrow will hold. We do not know when we will be back or if we will be back. However, we do know, without a doubt, that RMHC is here for us.
Jeanna and Melissa Plumly
Billy, Maggie, Aryon, Travis, Geneva and Gianna
Surprise arrivals seem to be the theme surrounding the birth of a baby named Axel. It started with a sudden arrival by a daughter and her daughter to the hospital bedside of a man in North Central Ohio who wasn’t expected to live.
Here’s how that daughter, Laurie Davis, tells the story of how it all began:
“Two weeks ago we went to Florida for a vacation. Then my dad got very sick after having a seizure and having radiation for stage 4 brain cancer. So my daughter Brittney and I flew here to Ohio from Key West to be with him. He was on life support and sedated. After we got here they took him off life support and he woke up like nothing happened (well a little weak).
On Saturday, Brittney started to feel contractions so I took her to the emergency room at Mansfield General Hospital. They gave her meds and told her to go back Sunday to make sure all was ok. Before she flew back on to St. Louis Tuesday, where we live. Well, Sunday she was getting ready to go back to Mansfield General and as she was getting into the shower when her water broke. So we hurried to Mansfield where – 8 hours later – she had a baby boy 6 weeks early.
He was having some stomach problems there and then they found a hole in his intestines so they brought him here to Columbus to the NICU at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to have surgery. He has an ileostomy (poop bag). But, now, he is recovering really well!”
Laurie & Brittney had made a sudden arrival in Ohio to visit Laurie’s father, when baby Axel decided to start his sudden arrival. That meant Axel’s grandma and mom would need to make a sudden arrival at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Fortunately, his great grandfather recovered in Mansfield, and Axel himself is doing well here in Columbus.
But probably the happiest sudden arrival, besides Axel’s, was that of Brittney’s two friends who came all the way from St. Louis to surprise Brittney at our Ronald McDonald House. Because visitors aren’t allowed inside the House, the three friends gathered outside and sat next to the Ronald McDonald statue on the bench near the front entrance to talk and visit.
In a Facebook post about the surprise, sudden arrival of her friends, Brittney said, “Y’all the love!!! I can NOT thank each and every one that has reached out, prayed, sent good vibes and support. Being a mother for only a week, I see how strong you have to be!!! I am in deep gratitude for everything everyone has done and showed! Huge huge huge thank you to my bestfriends Trisha Greathouse Kayle Marie and India Jackson for their much needed support and love. India has made a go fund me to help bring my baby home back to St. Louis and to help cover any medical and financial cost. Trisha and Kayle both surprised me today, came all the way from St. Louis for some much needed love and support for only a couple hours. And I needed it. I don’t think I’ve smiled in days. Axel is already loved so much by so many and I’m overwhelmed with joy! Keep praying prayer warriors. Axel is recovering peacefully and making progress as far as recovery post op. We’re not out of the woods at all but everyone’s love is definitely keeping his strong little self uplifted!”
Laurie knew the friends had made their sudden arrival at the House and caught the moment on video. Click below to watch this special moment.
[Photos & video courtesy: Laurie Davis & Brittney Christine Davis/Facebook]
Crystal and Philip Branch live in Buffalo, New York. But for nearly 100 days now, they’ve been living at our Ronald McDonald House. “We ended up in Columbus unexpectedly due to an emergency C-section,” Crystal says. “We were traveling for a medical procedure for our (unborn) twins when I went into preterm labor,” Crystal explains. That meant the couple’s trip to Cincinnati would have to stop suddenly with an emergency detour to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital here in Columbus.
Sadly, The Branches lost one of the twins, but their other daughter was born at 24 weeks gestation. Due to her extreme prematurity and some other significant complications, Charley, as their new baby was named, would be admitted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital when she was 4 days old. “She needed to be transferred for emergency surgery,” Crystal explains. “It was very late at night, we had not had a lot of sleep. We were stressed and worried about Charley being moved in her condition. It was comforting to know that we were so close to the hospital and could be there as soon as she arrived. We were surprised how inviting it felt.” Crystal and Philip had become familiar with RMHC of Central Ohio while Charley was in the NICU at Riverside Methodist Hospital. The couple found they were able to do laundry in the Ronald McDonald Family Room near the NICU. Crystal points out that the couple didn’t pack very many clothes for their trip because they weren’t expecting to be away from home for a long time when they started their road trip to Cincinnati.
Crystal gives the biggest reasons the Ronald McDonald House has been so important to her and her husband these last three months and more than a week saying it’s “The ability to have some of the weight lifted off of our shoulders with knowing that we have somewhere to stay and have home cooked meals. We can focus on our baby knowing that these stresses are taken care of.”
To further express her gratefulness, Crystal concludes, “The Ronald McDonald House has been such a blessing to us, with all of the stress that we have been dealing with it has been nice to know that housing is one thing that we don’t have to worry about. RMHC has lifted some of the financial burden off of our shoulders and we cannot be more grateful. Everything from the volunteers and employees who prepare home cooked meals, laundry facilities, and closeness to the hospital, we could not ask for more. Thank you RMHC, donors, and volunteers for allowing us to provide the best care and comfort to our daughter until she can come home.”