When 14-year-old Bella Harris held a donation drive for snack packs in her Lewis Center neighborhood, she had no idea the amount of support she would get from the entire community, along with the help of her Girl Scouts troop too! Click the image above to watch & listen to her describe how she came up with the idea and thank those who helped bring in 3-car loads of snack packs and other necessities for families staying with us.
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!!
When the year comes to a close, often times people and businesses are looking for tax deductions. One of our board members made an excellent suggestion in a recent Fleet Management Weekly article. You might be asking, “What does fleet management have to do with keeping families together as their child gets medical attention?” Read the article at the link below and share the article with those you know who are in charge of fleet vehicles. A donation of a car, truck, tractor, motorcycle, boat, etc. could provide nights of rest for our families.
Families need quality time in a place that feels like home when they have a child getting medical treatment. The Ronald McDonald Family Room® in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion will be a place where families can gather to de-stress. This space will serve as a welcoming environment where families can feel at home and a place where families can be close to their children as they receive treatment and support at the pavilion. This Ronald McDonald Family Room® will be the first in a stand-alone behavioral health facility specifically for children and adolescence which gives hope for the future of families with children working through mental health difficulties. Dee Anders, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, and Vicki Chappelear, Program Manager, talk about the importance of this new family room in a video produced by the video team of the spring Immersion Class at Capital University’s Convergent Media Center. Special thanks to the students, staff, and advisors from the PR & communications company, Fahlgren-Mortine.
Sarah & Adam Martin of Talladega, Alabama are often on the road with their two young sons. They travel around the country so Colt can ride youth motocross competitions. But the trip to Columbus is never very easy. The family has been coming to Nationwide Children’s hospital since October of last year so Colt’s younger brother, Mason, can get the care he needs. Describing how it felt as she and her husband looked at what lay ahead for Mason, Sarah explained, “It is a scary and hopeless feeling to not understand what is happening to your child. Especially when they are so young and cannot just tell you exactly what/how they are feeling.”
Mason was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Tethered Spinal Cord at Children’s of Alabama. Chiari Malformation is a condition in which brain tissue extends out of your skull and pushes on your spinal cord. Tethered spinal cord syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limit the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column. The Martins were referred to Nationwide Children’s hospital during their journey to find out Mason’s diagnosis. Sarah said, “We had been trying to find a doctor to help Mason for two and a half years before we were referred to Dr. Leonard. Mason had de-tether surgery in October 2019 and decompression surgery for his Chiari in January 2020.”
When planning for the first surgery, the Martins found out about the Ronald McDonald House. “It was great having somewhere to stay to close to the hospital. They make you feel at home and Mason loves the playrooms,” Sarah said with delight. “We were there during Christmas last year and he got to see Santa. The House helps Mason feel more comfortable.”
Mason’s parents believe staying at the House helps Mason decompress after a stressful day seeing doctors. Referring to the trips to Columbus, Sarah said, “He was happy to be there, just not so much the hospital. There were wonderful people that would cook for lunch and dinner was so great. After Mason’s second surgery, he wouldn’t eat. I remember there was a restaurant that came in and cooked different pastas. Mason would not stop eating and they were so sweet to him.”
Mason likes to get his bicycle out of the van full of motorbikes and equipment that the family sometimes brings when coming to Columbus and, fortunately, the House has a big back yard for riding around. “I think Mason loves dirt bikes more than his brother, ” Sarah joked. “Mason loves motorcycles more than anyone. I feel like anywhere we go Mason has to have his motorcycles and is always racing.” It seems Mason really looks up to his older brother. “My older son, Colt, got his first motorcycle at three-and-a-half years old and started racing when he was five. In 2018, he won the Loretta Lynn National Championship. Colt is 9 years old now and we are heading back to the National Championship in about 4 weeks for the fourth year in a row.” Sarah pointed out that the motocross community is like a huge, extended family for Mason and the family has made many friends through the sport. “Motocross is a family atmosphere and there is nothing like it,” Sarah exclaimed. “Mason likes to yell at his brother and tell him to go faster or jump higher. He also loves helping his dad work on the bikes. All he wants to play with is dirt bike toys, be at the dirt bike track, and ride.” When it comes to taking Mason on the road for races, Sarah says there’s no place he would rather be. “Mason has a high pain tolerance and he fights through the pain most days to be able to play with his dirt bike toys and watch his brother race. Mason will get down a lot at the races and we travel in a van with a bed so it allows Mason to lay down during the day.”
Some parents might be scared watching their young child riding a motocross bike on a challenging course. But, Sarah said her real apprehension centers on the course Mason’s ailments currently have him on and for any surprises that may come up surrounding those challenges. “It is scary not to know what Mason’s future holds. Mason still suffers from pain in his back, bladder and bowel issues. We are unsure what the future holds but we will make the best of it for Mason.”
Though the trip to Columbus may not be as fun as a trip to another race track for Mason, Sarah says she and Adam have a simple message for volunteers & supporters of the House. “Thank you for all you do. When a family is going through a scary time in their lives, the Ronald McDonald House is a light in the darkness. It is a wonderful atmosphere for the kids and we could not be more thankful for it helping Mason through the tough times. Mason has a lot of anxiety with doctors and hospital. The House makes his experience a lot better.”
Click here to see the viral video of Mason next to his brother at a starting gate that’s been seen eight million times. Safe travels, Mason and family.
Hi! My name is Meesha Sparrow. I went to school for Business Administration with a minor in finance. I’ve held several positions including being a receptionist for various law firms, providing mortgage services for a big bank, and even working directly with engineers in Germany for a car company. My first job was as a youth leader at a small neighborhood church when I was 14. During high school, I interned at a middle school and hospital.
I was first introduced to the Ronald McDonald House through Thirty One Gifts as a consultant. At the time, I was going through a big career change and working on understanding what I was truly passionate about. During this time, I worked on getting to know my personal core values and finding out what was important to me: honesty, compassion, gratitude, hope and children. In 2018 I became a volunteer. I was a “go getter” and would mainly clean rooms every Monday evening. I quickly discovered all the volunteers shared a lot of my main core values. I felt like I belonged.
When a position opened up for a family service manager I was thrilled. Working overnights, I get a whole different perspective than what you’d see in the day. There are many overnights I’ve witnessed parents/caregivers just needing to decompress. Being able to vent and share experiences with other families and staff like myself is so important for family members staying at the House. You can see in their faces the relief of not being alone and knowing people are here for them.
During the pandemic, I got the opportunity to work with the development team! What an amazing team. I was pleasantly surprised that not only the volunteers share my core values, but the staff too.
I never expected to get more than what I put in by being a part of the House. The Ronald McDonald House helps me be a better person. From the continuous love and support from the staff and volunteers, the families who make you feel as if you’re their family, to the kids going through so much and still effortlessly smiling at you. I’m proud and grateful to be a part of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
At Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, we continue to support our families of seriously ill children during this unsettling time. The global pandemic adds worry to their already stressful situation and compromised health. We are committed to providing clean and healthy family-centered spaces for families to rest and recharge. Our families rely on us to provide warm meals, daily essentials, and a safe place to rest their heads at night. And when there’s a crisis, our support is even more essential, providing families with a sense of relief and stability in their already challenging lives. The health and well-being of our guest families, staff, and the communities in which we serve is, and always will be, our first priority. Therefore, in order to prevent exposure and the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we have made the following changes:
We remain focused on our core mission of providing overnight accommodations and support for the families of hospitalized children. The above changes will have a significant impact on our operating budget, and your help is critical as we continue to care for families during this global crisis. With challenging times come opportunities for heroes to emerge and assist those in great need.
Please be our hero and make a donation to our Coronavirus Response Fund to help support our families during these challenging times. Any donation helps in providing a safe place for families of hospitalized children.
With your support, we are incredibly grateful to be able to keep families together and close to the resources they need.
Oftentimes, creativity shines brightest during hard days. Recently, 15-year-old chalk artist Cecilia Martyna, a student at Dublin Jerome High School, contacted us to ask if she could draw a picture of Ronald McDonald in front our Ronald McDonald House and we gladly accepted the offer. Friday afternoon, she completed this work facing the Ronald McDonald House on the sidewalk in front of our building in just over three hours. Within the next 24 hours, her artwork had been shared to over 1,000,000 people on social media, and her story was aired on television stations in Columbus and Cleveland. (See the progress of her work below)
By using her talent and taking time to create a special encouraging message like this one, Cecilia warmed the hearts of guests at the Ronald McDonald House, as well as front line workers at the Ronald McDonald House and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Do you have an encouraging message to share with guests of the Ronald McDonald House, or our brave employees at Ronald McDonald House and Nationwide Children’s Hospital? Film a simple selfie video and post it to Facebook. Tag us @RMHCofCentralOhio, and encourage our guests and staff!
Thank you, Cecilia, for your contribution. This is a special gift that we will always hold in our hearts. You are an inspiration to our entire community!
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio is committed to the health and well being of our community. Our team is working diligently to address concerns with the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). In an effort to maintain the safety of our community, we have suspended non-essential volunteer groups. In addition, many meal groups have cancelled or rescheduled for a later date. As you know, the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room are completely dependent upon volunteerism to operate.
In these challenging times, we are fortunate to have many people asking how they can help us at RMHC. If you are interested in helping us provide meals to guests of the Ronald McDonald House, please consider making a donation. To learn more about supporting the meal program, called Team Cuisine, please email Katherine.Becker@RMHC-CentralOhio.org. To make a financial donation to support our operations, please visit rmhc-centralohio.org/donation-form/.
In addition, RMHC of Central Ohio has postponed our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Handbag HULLABALOO! Dublin in compliance with Governor DeWine’s Executive Order. We will be working with our event committees to announce the rescheduled dates for those events as they become available.
Please know that we sincerely appreciate the support of our community, and look forward to the day that we can open our doors once again to volunteer groups.
RMHC of Central Ohio
In about March 2018, I was asked to attend a “quilt guild” meeting with a friend I had recently met. I have sewn all my life but knew nothing of quilting and thought I had no interest. I mistakenly believed quilting to be all about making a bedspread. But, in an effort to honor my friend’s request, I agreed to go. I was absolutely enthralled with the “pictures made out of fabric” that I saw at that meeting. I knew this was something I must do. I bought a new sewing machine in May of 2018 and took off like a racehorse out of the gates.
My first quilts were a series of nursery rhyme scenes from my own original drawings. I hoped to sell them but figured I could give them to my grandchildren if they didn’t sell. Much to my surprise, when I showed them to the owner of a local children’s book store, she bought them all and asked me to make a few more. She hung them above the bookshelves in her store and they fit perfectly and look great. Then she asked me if I would make a quilt from a watercolor picture that her son had made for her. She wanted this quilt to be bigger so children could snuggle in it on the reading couch in the back of her store. I first spoke with the artist to ask permission because I want children to know that they have ownership of things that they create. I make a big deal out of this with every quilt I make. When I completed this quilt, which depicts a mouse saying “Please read”, I knew I had found a calling. This process combines my passion for children’s original artwork with my lifelong love of fabrics.
The children’s bookstore asked me to put business cards on their counter and I began to receive calls for quilts. One day I met a woman who asked me about my quilting. I will never forget her question to me after we had spoken just a few minutes. She said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use your talent to honor children who have died?” She told me that she had just lost her great nephew two weeks prior and that she had some of his last pieces of artwork. I was quite taken aback and told her I would think about that. My husband and I decided that we really did not need the money that a quilt business brings in, so……I contacted my new friend and said that, yes, I would make that quilt as a gift to her great nephew’s mother. At that point I began telling each family that there was a catch to this gift. When I brought them their quilt, they would need to refer me to another family that I could sew for. Not necessarily a family who had experienced loss but a family whose child was experiencing illness. This worked well but extremely slowly. I knew I could do much more. I mentioned this to a friend and she told me to contact the Ronald McDonald House so I did. It was a great decision because now I have access to many families that I can honor with a quilt.
I figure it takes me about 20 hours to make most of the quilts which measure about 3’ x 4’. This includes time for fabric shopping and a lot of staring at the original artwork. The most fun part of the process is deciding how to approach the project because the medium used makes different approaches necessary.
I make sure each family receives their quilt within a couple weeks. I have delivered nine quilts to Ronald McDonald families so far.
My very favorite comment was made by a father from Spain. He and his wife bring their two daughters to Columbus every three months for treatments. He pointed at the quilt I had made the girls and he said, “This is great reminder………of you………of here………of all”. That’s about when I lost it and I cried all the way home in the car. I think I would like those words printed on a plaque or something.
I do it because I love to do it. I love to get inside a child’s head as I analyze what they drew first and what later, or how they used the marker or paint brush. I love the honesty and the freedom and the charm of children’s artwork. I love to work with fabrics.
The culture of quilting seems to me to be about two things really: comfort and legacy. I hope that families find physical comfort snuggled under a quilt I have made. And I label each piece carefully so that when it’s found in a box, many generations from now, it will also serve as a legacy for the child that inspired it. I get more pleasure than I can describe from looking at children’s artwork and trying to recreate it. I am beyond honored to be a part of their stories.
I plan to continue to make these quilts indefinitely, as long as I am financially able. I use only quality materials and they are not inexpensive. It is my paying customers that allow me to continue to make gifts. As long as I can rustle up a few paying customers, I will make quilts for the families of Ronald McDonald House.
I have always been a person who goes after what they want; who makes things happen; that type of person. In my retirement years, I have been overcome with the feeling that it’s time to stop that; to just relax and see what comes to me. This new approach to life is working miraculously for me. Not one aspect of my quilt making has been my own idea. Each step has occurred because someone asked me to do something or encouraged me to do something. Two years ago I could not have imagined that I would be doing the things that I’m doing today and I’ve never been happier. As I said earlier, I am beyond honored to be a part of the Ronald McDonald House and the families that I sew for. Sincere thanks to all of you.