Our youngest son, Braxton was in 5th Grade and on October 24, 2013, his school notified us because he had a very severe headache and was not able to return to class so he had to be picked up. When my wife Charity got there, they told her that he did not have a fever, but he could not return to class because he appeared to have a migraine. When he came out of the nurse’s office, he threw up, and continued throwing up and was taken home and given medicine for what was thought to be a flu or bug but the vomiting and headache both continued. He couldn’t even stand the lights being on. At about 3 am on the 25th, he was moaning and in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, holding the back of his head. He was then taken to our local hospital ER because it was clear something was very wrong.
At the hospital, they stated they believed that he had a respiratory infection, and that he was dehydrated from vomiting, which caused the headache. Despite my wife’s attempts to explain to them that he had the headache first, they treated him with fluids, antibiotic and a pain medication, and sent us home and he appeared better at that time. After going home and getting him back to sleep, around 8:30 am on October 25, 2013, he woke up again moaning and in a fetal position holding his head. At this point, my wife called his regular Pediatrician at home and told her to meet me at her office. Upon looking at him, Braxton’s physician, Dr. Lall, stated that she believed he had meningitis, and that I needed to take him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital immediately. When asked why our local hospital would not have caught this she stated she did not know, but the good thing about him getting the fluids in the middle of the night was that I could transport him rather than him requiring to be taken by squad.
Upon getting to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, they began running tests based on the information that my wife and Dr. Lall had provided. They did a spinal tap to determine if Braxton did have meningitis and the initial results showed that he did have meningitis, but the doctors were uncertain if it was viral or bacterial, as he had received antibiotics at our local hospital, which would have impacted the results. They needed to do more tests and they would not know for certain until the next day.
So after being in the ER at Nationwide Children’s Hospital all day and into the night, Braxton would have to spend the night in the hospital, and myself and our oldest son Zacheus were instructed to go to the Ronald McDonald House. After arriving at the Ronald McDonald House, we were processed efficiently and checked into our room without any issues saving us time, money, miles, and kept us close to Children’s Hospital in case we were needed. It can never be expressed enough how valuable a resource the Ronald McDonald House is and the services they provide to people that desperately need something to go right during a time of need. We were fortunate to only have needed to stay one night as the next day, Braxton was released from the hospital. It was determined that he had viral meningitis, as all of the cultures were back. He tested positive for Viral & negative for Bacterial. He continued to have symptoms for a while but otherwise made a full recovery.
My short time there and seeing first hand all the families that are impacted in such a positive way by the services provided by the Ronald McDonald House, and the reality that some of them have loved ones in even worse situations needing further assistance and long term care is so valued. The previous acts of giving and kindness are why I have always been willing to help aid your efforts as well and Children’s Hospital when I can, whether in a professional capacity or with community service projects we have done with the sports teams I’ve lead through the years.
Thanks Again So Much,
John Wheeler & Family
On June 27, 2017, Judy Skinner worked her last day as a volunteer at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House after serving families there for 35 years. over that time, she had been featured in many social media posts, blogs, and news items about her service to our families. But when she walked away from the House on that day in 2017, she didn’t stop volunteering for RMHC of Central Ohio altogether. In fact, within a month of leaving her position as Housewarmer at the House, she went to work volunteering at the newly opened Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. The RMFR doesn’t have a full-time paid staff member. It is a volunteer who keeps the room open and available every day for family members who have a baby in the NICU or a child who has been admitted to the hospital. For those family members who visit the room when Judy happens to be volunteering, they get the attention of our most experienced volunteer and a mother who understands the importance of having a space for respite while caring for an ill child in a hospital.
Judy and Tom Skinner had a 13-year-old child undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital in the late 1970s and RMHC of Central Ohio did not yet exist. “Greg, our son, had leukemia for 14 months and passed away,” Judy tells us. She says she never forgot the families she and her husband saw at the hospital adding, “It seemed the best thing to do following that experience would be to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. It was my main way to help people who had been in my same situation.” So, after volunteering at the House since it opened in 1982, and through it’s expansion in 2014 to become the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world, Judy, who lives in Clintonville, felt it was time to slow things down a bit, but not stop completely. “The Ronald McDonald Family Room was a nice way to continue helping in some way, closer to home. Talking with families going through that same situation feels good because I know it helps them.”
The RMFR at Riverside Methodist Hospital just celebrated it’s second anniversary. Thanks to volunteers like Judy, thousands of families have been able to find respite from the stress of having a child in the hospital, if just for a moment. This month, RMHC of Central Ohio kicks off a volunteer-driven campaign to support the Ronald McDonald Family Room. If you would like to show your appreciation to volunteers such as Judy, for keeping the RMFR open and available for families, click here to learn more about the #MyWhy fundraiser.
Just after the new Nationwide Children’s Hospital tower opened, a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House invited a friend – whom he knew to be a talented woodworker – to join him and check out the large wooden animal sculptures in the hospital’s new building. After the two checked out that new building, the volunteer brought his friend across the street and gave him a tour of the Ronald McDonald House. It was at that moment that George Geissbuhler decided he would volunteer at the House that his friend had shown him. It’s now been three years this month that George has been one of our craftsmen volunteers and he says, “This is just quite fun. I love it.”
George has the most fun working with wood (he also volunteers at the Furniture Bank), here at the Ronald McDonald House. Yet, he not only helps to fix furniture, he also works on all kinds of projects including cleaning filters & fixing air conditioners. “We do the stuff that nobody else wants to do,” he says. “I would say the least enjoyable for us, mostly, is sanding a room. You remove the wallpaper and you have to sand the wall of the glue and then paint it at lunch, then paint it again,” he explains. Then George corrects himself, “Actually, the worst job, is grinding the floor when we’re replacing the floor in a room with water damage. It’s a job that’s not very pleasant, but it’s a VERY good feeling when you’re all done when a room was just kind of beat up and when you’re all done, it’s just like a brand new hotel room.”
Although George points out the toughest jobs he has hated at the House, he quickly pivots to let you know, “I can’t imagine not coming here, frankly.” He shares that he knows he and the other craftsmen are needed here because of the families who need the House. George remembers, “We were at one of the Christmas Dinners here, and sat with a couple. It was a mother and a son. He had multiple surgeries. Hearing their story – they live in West Virginia and they were coming up like once a month. She said, ‘This place is like a home to us.’” George says hearing their story prompted him to confess to the family, “Your story is really why I’m volunteering.” He adds, “They couldn’t say enough nice things about the Ronald McDonald House and it just makes you appreciate… I have 3 children… how healthy they are and never had to stay at a place like this.”
George says he’s only toured one other Ronald McDonald House and that was while he and his wife were on a recent trip to New Zealand. They noticed a donation box for the local Ronald McDonald House sitting at the lobby’s front desk of their hotel. George asked where the House was located and decided with his wife that they would get a cab to go check it out. He says the House manager was so hospitable, giving the couple an hour tour of the House, and leaving them with a gift before they left. It was a rock with the Wellston RMHC logo hand-painted on it! One of only 5 that a mother staying at the House had painted.
He’s known at the House for his woodwork, making everything from the donation box at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital to wooden golf bag tags for golf outing participants and the plaque given to the golf classic’s namesake, Joe Mortellaro. But George tells us he’ll be making wooden items for sale at the upcoming holiday bazaar at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, so you can take home some of George’s work yourself. And, he says all of the proceeds from his items at the bazaar will go to RMHC of Central Ohio. Thank you, George, for all of the work you’ve done for the House over the last three years, including sharing your woodwork talent!
If a fire truck comes to your house as lunch is being made, that might be a bad sign that lunch is burnt. But when the 108th Columbus Fire Recruit Class came to our Ronald McDonald House to make lunch on Wednesday, Aug. 7, the group brought a fire truck too. Not because the students & instructors weren’t confident in their cooking abilities. They brought the truck so after preparing and serving lunch for our families, family members were welcome to go out to the parking area behind the House and learn all about CFD Engine 40.
Patient Forest Winterscheidt’s mom, Kathryn Winterscheidt, both of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma said, “The house is a great home away from home and it’s really fun to have extra things to go above and beyond what to do at your own house.” “It was a real treat for him to see the truck and the flashing lights.” Forest said he thought it was, “Pretty Cool… using the water hose!” Kathryn said he learned, “The truck only fit 6 people so he wasn’t sure how the rest of them got here.”
Abigail Brumme, our Family Activities Manager, said, “We were beyond excited to have the recruits visit the House with the truck! As the Family Activities Manager, I have the honor of working with many groups that bring in exciting opportunities for our families to participate in. This was definitely an opportunity that myself and the families will remember forever. The recruits were incredibly kind and welcoming with our families and made it an extra special experience for them. They made sure that our families were able to tour the truck, use the hose, learn about the equipment and did all of it with a big smile on their face. We are so grateful for this opportunity and the joy it brought to our families. A big thanks to the recruits who made it such a special experience!”
The 108th Columbus Fire recruit class members are working to graduate in next month as state certified firefighters, fire inspectors and emergency medical technicians. Click here to see more pictures from this special day in our Facebook photo album. [All photos courtesy Columbus Division of Fire Public Information Office.]
We often get notes of thanks here at the Ronald McDonald House. Those messages are often short notes from mother’s who want to share with us how much they value the gift of togetherness our home provided for their family. We received this message from a mom on Facebook earlier this year. With her permission, we would like to share her note of thanks to you, our supporters, as her son is about to turn 21-years-old. Because without you as our foundation, we couldn’t have been able to provide a temporary home in Columbus for her and her family while her son got better.
Sunday, April 7, was the four year anniversary of my son’s first brain surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He was 16 years old at the time. The proposed treatment plan included one brain surgery, 1-2 days in the PICU, 10-12 days in the neuroscience unit and then go home. My other two children were 12 and 14 at the time and our family resides in Delaware County- 45 minutes away from campus and gas was around $4.53/ gallon. We were already struggling with the transportation costs and medical bills from previous hospital stays.
We planned with the staff and social workers to stay for 14 days but then things got really ugly for my son and plans changed- radically. The short version of this long tale is that we ended up spending 10 days in PICU, 10 days on the neuroscience floor, 59 days in the rehabilitation unit and instead of one brain surgery, my son endured 3 brain surgeries during that time. Many tears shed. Many meals cooked and snacks provided by the house. Your love and support did not change or waiver even though our plans changed weekly and sometimes daily.
There is much more I could say but there are really not enough words to tell you what RMHC of Central Ohio means to us. My son turned 20 last fall. He managed to graduate from high school the summer of 2017. I had him take last year off due to some other medical issues that we needed to manage due to the casualties incurred from the brain surgeries that saved his life. However, I am thrilled to share with you that my son began his college journey this past January at Columbus State Community College. His short-term goal is to graduate with an associate’s degree from the Social and Human Services program at Columbus State. His long term goal is to earn a master’s degree in psychiatry. These dreams would not be possible without the support we received from you.
We’re so honored to announce that yesterday’s inaugural Dean’s Charity Steer Show raised more than $135,000 to help keep families near their children in Columbus area hospitals. Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, along with Ohio Cattlemen’s Association and Telhio Credit Union, hosted this first-ever event benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. The show brought together our community to celebrate agriculture and support children and their families that rely on RMHC during difficult times.
The steer show included a “sale” following the same procedures as a typical livestock sale, but without the actual transfer of livestock. Instead, all buyer sale proceeds are going to benefit RMHC of Central Ohio. The show and sale featured local celebrity exhibitors who partnered with a 4-H member and their steer. The community could also make a donation toward their favorite celebrity’s fundraising page for the event. Thanks to all of the exhibitors, the 4-H families, donors, and steer buyers for making this inaugural show a huge success! Thanks, also, to all who supported and attended the event, especially Ohio Cattlemen Association members and county affiliates, OSU extension offices, the Ohio State Fair, and to auctioneers Ron Kreis, Johnny Regula, Darby Walton and Kevin Wendt.
2019 Dean’s Charity Steer Show Winners:
Best Steer: Clark Kellogg, CBS Sports analyst, with 4-H member Sydney Sanders – Highland County Best Showmanship: Bob Peterson, public servant and eighth-generation Fayette County farmer, with 4-H member Victoria Waits – Fayette County People’s Choice Award: Adam Sharp, executive vice president, Ohio Farm Bureau, with 4-H member Sam Sutherly – Miami County.
Remaining Celebrity Exhibitors:
Cathann Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of The Ohio State
University CFAES, with 4-H member Wyatt Osborn – Highland County; Matt Barnes, NBC4 morning anchor, with 4-H member Caroline Winter – Pickaway County; Mark Berven, president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Property & Casualty, with 4-H member Allison Davis – Carroll County; Bobby Carpenter, sports talk host on 97.1 The Fan, with 4-H member Kyle Kardotzke – Erie County; Jay Edwards, Athens County small business owner and real estate investor, with 4-H member Austin Pullins – Athens County; Clay Hall, sports director for ABC 6/FOX 28, with 4-H member Shala Graham – Licking County; Woody Johnson, host of “Woody and the Wake-Up Call” on WCOL-FM 92.3, with 4-H member Lauren Schulte – Putnam County; Rick Malir, chief executive officer and co-founder of City Barbeque, with 4-H member Jocelyn Belleville – Wood County; Bob McElligott, sports broadcaster for the Columbus Blue Jackets, with 4-H member McKalynne Helmke – Tuscarawas County; Shelley Meyer, former first lady of Ohio State football, with 4-H member Taylor Poff – Geauga County.
Watch Ohio Ag Net & Ohio’s Country Journal’s report on the event here:
At about 20 weeks into my second pregnancy, I was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening condition. At 25 weeks, I started experiencing complications and spent several weeks in the hospital. There was a brief period when I was discharged from the hospital. However, the doctors agreed with my husband and I that we did not feel comfortable coming home as we are about an hour from the closest hospital that could help should I experience complications again or, worse yet, should my condition become more severe.
Thankfully, the social worker on my case at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center was able to get us a room at your Ronald McDonald House. Unfortunately, we only stayed about a week as I was readmitted back into the hospital for the duration of my pregnancy. Once my daughter was born, we stayed at the House again while she was in the NICU for approximately 2 weeks.
We are so extremely thankful for the Ronald McDonald House. Obviously, I was able to be close to the help I needed should I have needed it, but also because family members were able to be with our 18 month old son and be together as a family during that time.
The Love family from North Carolina has been spotlighted often in our blogs & social media posts. Christin and her mother’s stories allow us to give you, our supporters, some insight into what it’s like to be family that needs and uses the Ronald McDonald House often. This time, we’re featuring Christin Love because she’s also been sharing her stories with school children back home in North Carolina.
A couple of the pictures with this post were taken at Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary, North Carolina where Christin spoke a few months ago. She shared her medical journey with them and told them how much she loves the Ronald McDonald House here in Columbus. As her mother, Michelle, tells us, “She shared with them that she has not been scared to go through all of the test, surgeries, and procedures that she has had because her family has been able to be with her and that could have only have happened because of the Ronald McDonald House.”
As Michelle explains in an email to us, “After hearing Christin’s story, Cardinal Charter Academy wanted to help out the Ronald McDonald House! They decided to support Christin’s RMH not only during this past school year but during the upcoming school year as well. They are doing this by making blankets for the welcome bags and collecting pop tabs for the House. One of Cardinal Charter’s teachers, Ms. Laurie Hohstadt, said that her 4th grade class has shown so much excitement in supporting the Ronald McDonald House that now the entire school is helping support Christin’s home away from home by collecting pop tabs in each classroom and at the front office!”
Thank you, Chirstin, for sharing your story back in your hometown area. Thanks, also, to Ms. Hohstadt and the student’s who send love and support to all of our families at the House. And thanks to all who have donated pop tabs and other items to the students so they can share that support with our families as well.
On Wednesday, July 10, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary with cupcakes for visitors to the room. Families and hospital staff were invited to the family room to take part in the celebration. We invited Trish Wright, president of the Wright Ways Foundation, to the family room. She and her family had used the family room almost exactly a year ago. Trish had given birth to Chosen at the hospital and Chosen had to stay in the NICU for a few months. Her family found the family room to be just what they needed during that time. Chosen and her family came back for our celebration and to help Trish donate care bags for NICU moms on behalf of the Wright’s Way Foundation. Click the image below to hear her story.
11-year-old Ella Wintringer is a member of the Skating Club of Western New York in Buffalo, New York who frequently stays with us at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus with her mom, Jamie. This was the second year she participated with ice skating professionals in the annual Skate It Forward show & competition at the Ice Haus at Nationwide Arena. Skate It Forward has raised nearly $100,000 over three years for RMHC! Thank you Ella and to all of the ice skating pros who took part in this year’s show! You can read a blog post about Ella written for us by her mom last year, by clicking here.
We also want to thank all of the skaters & cast members who helped make this year’s show so awesome:
Mollie Quakenbush McGrail
John M. Haferman
Correction: An earlier version of this article showed Ella as raising the total amount of nearly $100,000. Skate It Forward has raised these funds collectively over the past three years, including various other fundraisers throughout the year with hundreds of individuals and teams making contributions. Thank you all and we apologize for the confusion.