I began volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in 2015 as a “go-getter.” We go-getters complete all kinds of tasks to help keep the House in good order: clean and restock guest rooms, wash/dry/deliver to housekeeping rooms laundry (sheets, towels, comforters, etc.), empty trash, and clean “common” rooms such as the library, exercise room, and the princess and Lego rooms.
Because of the diversity of duties, I rarely ever have two volunteer shifts that are the same. And I really enjoy meeting and interacting with the staff of the House, especially the volunteer coordinators and the family services managers. Everyone is always so very appreciative of the time that we volunteers give to help out around the House.
Volunteers are always encouraged to take one or more breaks during their four-hour shift. Several years ago, I sat down with some kids in the dining room to color and explain to them what I do as a volunteer. Not only was it a nice change from my regular volunteer duties, I was able to meet and connect with several families who were dealing with the stress of having a child in the hospital. Providing a small diversion by sitting down and coloring with their kids enabled me in a small way to help carry out the mission of the Ronald McDonald House.
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.
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
For several years, Village Green Properties in Central Ohio have had a fundraising day called Splash Day, centered around the pool at its residential complexes. On May 2 Industry, Village Green’s newest Columbus property, held it’s first Splash Day at its roof-top pool. Welcoming guests and residents of the party to the lobby was a red and white play house with a yellow flower box on it’s big window. It turns out that a couple of the Industry staff decided to use some left over construction materials from the new structure to build that play house to be delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus. A few days later, the man who built the little house was dropping it off at the Ronald McDonald House for children to use while staying in our big House. Click the image below to see a short video about the arrival of the little house and hear from the Industry maintenance pro who built it.
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.
Some households in Central Ohio now have some skilled young chefs in their kitchens. Sometimes when our Chef Blair Arms is cooking up a meal in the kitchen, she’s had curious children who are staying in the House, come up and ask questions. Sometimes, with the permission of their parents, she’s included these culinary curious kids in making her creations. That got Chef Blair to thinking: What if she were to invite local kids into the Ronald McDonald House main kitchen and teach them how to cook?! It was really an idea born out of necessity.
During the height of the pandemic, the House became very quiet without siblings being able to stay with us. Blair didn’t have that regular opportunity to show kids how to have fun with food in the the kitchen. She also was busy preparing meals by herself with many volunteers unable to help make the meals due to so many safety restrictions in place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With few, if any, Team Cuisine meal groups paying for family meals on a regular basis as before the pandemic shut-downs, the budget for family meals began to dwindle. So the plan was forged for Chef Blair to hold the very first Culinary Camp for Kids as soon as we were able to have a small group of children back in the House. Not only would she be able to share her love for cooking with eager kids looking for something to do this summer, the donations would help bring back the budget for family meals!
Kids ages 10 to 14 got to learn cooking techniques while learning their way around a kitchen and how to create meals. What’s more, they got to learn the importance of helping others. The children participated in a hands-on learning experience each day, led by Chef Blair. Columbus Downtown High School’s Culinary Teacher Chef Anthony, who also fills in for Chef Blair at the House from time-to-time, also taught the students invaluable lessons. They even created lunch two times for all of the families staying at the House on two of the days during the five-day camp. Chef Blair also invited a few other distinguished guest chefs to join the class throughout the week and impart their special knowledge to campers too. Chef Virginia Bistriceanu taught a crepe class one day that allowed the children to learn how to make one of Chef Virginia’s signature crepes, which can sell for as much as $20 in an upscale restaurant! Chef Virginia showed the campers how to make crepes as thin as possible, but still allow the pancake-like confections to hold the fruit filling.
Two pros from the Ohio State University also helped teach the kids during this camp. Dr. Lyda Garcia, Assistant Professor for Meat Science and a Meat Extension Specialist taught the kids all about beef one day, while Dr. Michael Cressman, Assistant Professor, Professional Practice, with the Department of Animal Sciences showed the children how to properly divide up a whole chicken for grilling.
The final, second lunch was also be open to the parents of the campers. Some of those parents expressing that they would like to participate in a Culinary Camp themselves! They saw that their children learned the importance of nutrition and gained valuable kitchen skills, all while serving families and learning about the mission of our charity. Stay tuned to our Events webpage for possible future in-person Culinary Classes by Chef Blair.
Jared Bugay recently joined the Marketing & Communications team at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. He wrote the following guest blog to introduce himself.
My name is Jared Bugay and I am a Senior at The Ohio State University pursuing a degree in finance. I was born in Missouri but moved to Delaware Oho at a young age where I have lived for the majority of my life. I decided I wanted to pursue a finance degree because I have always had some interest in personal finance. Also, the stock market was always interesting to me being the biggest factor in why I went down the finance path. As of right now, I don’t know exactly what I want to do right out of college, but I do know I want to get a job in banking to start. I would like to have a career 5ish years out is being a financial consultant for people, once I have more experience in the field.
I was looking for an internship this summer and was connected to Ryan Wilkins at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. At first, I didn’t know much about the charity, but by doing further research, I thought about what they did and its slogan to be a great thing by helping families stay together during extended hospital stays. So I took the opportunity to Intern for them this summer as I saw it as a chance to further grow.
My first impression of the building as a whole was how big it was I didn’t fully realize how many families stay here at 1 time when I initially looked up the House. I came in with the idea that it will be an enriching learning experience this summer and as of right now I can say that my expectations will be met and maybe even exceeded. As my first week is coming to an end, I have fully realized how much I will experience this summer. Learning about how a non-profit charity markets itself to the community to keep revenue coming in will dovetail nicely with my future in finance. I look forward to learning more about the charity and how it operates day-to-day.
Bryana Wallace is an Ohio University student who, along with a other student leaders, will be working to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities during the annual Bobcathon dance marathon on the university’s campus. This group of students also raise funds every month during the school year, leading right up to the big dance. Click here to learn more about Bobcathon.
We asked Bryana to tell us a little bit about how she came to be in a leadership position with Bobcathon, and this was her response:
“In August of 2019, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I received treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and after certain treatments, my family and I would head over to the Ronald McDonald House knowing that I would have a reaction to a certain medicine they gave me, which in turn sent me back over to Children’s. Although I did not stay but one time, I received nothing but the best care and everyone at the house was so nice. Not to long after I was told I was Cancer free in November, Bobcathon members had asked if I wanted to come and share my story. After speaking at the dance marathon, I knew it was something I wanted to join in college. Although I just graduated high school, I will be going into college as a sophomore and part of the Planning team as the director of fundraising for Bobcathon. I am excited to raise money for the children and for the House because they helped me in more ways than one when I was going through treatments.” – Bryana Wallace
NBC4’s Matt Barnes featured Bryana in a story during the Memorial Tournament last week. Click the image below to see the story about how Bryana became one of ten Patient Champions at this major international golf event in Central Ohio.
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