Four years ago this month, I toured the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus for the first time. The House and everything it offered blew me away! I told myself I would volunteer and make a difference. But I didn’t follow through for a long time. Life got busy and I was working in an industry where my schedule had no consistency.
Five months after touring that house with 88 bedrooms, an accident on a family vacation left my youngest brother, Austin, paralyzed and on a ventilator and my family checked into a small Ronald McDonald House in Tallahassee, Florida with only eight bedrooms. I can’t begin to describe the surreal feeling of going through the motions of getting to the hospital, waiting in a room for the doctor to finally come talk to you, and that doctor telling you that this accident will have a best-case scenario of your brother being a quadriplegic. Those first hours were honestly the scariest moments of our lives because we had no idea the outcome and it wasn’t anything that we could ever have been prepared for. Austin spent June 1 through November 18 of 2015 in the hospital with my mom by his side while the rest of us split our time between working and traveling back and forth from Ohio to his new hospital in Chicago.
I know firsthand that what we here at RMHC of Central Ohio provide for families is more than just a bed near the hospital. It’s the community of support that comes from strangers taking care of you and every family going through something completely different who can still relate to the chaos that comes with the daily uncertainty of a hospital stay.
Since that fateful year, I’ve been a volunteer, a volunteer manager, and now a member of the development team here at RMHC of Central Ohio. As Strategic Partnerships Associate, I’m working with the community to make sure families with ill or injured children in the hospital can rely on our House for years to come. I’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received from the community because it takes a village to keep the world’s largest Ronald McDonald House running.
One of the “Villages” I am immensely involved with is our Red Shoe Society, which is a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting RMHC of Central Ohio and our families. Each month, week, and day I’m amazed by what this group accomplishes. From Saturday morning breakfasts, to Friday night kitchen cleaning, to various community fundraisers this group has fun while supporting the House. With each member of RSS donating just $12 each month to RMHC, we’ve raised over $8,000 to support the house! Can you imagine the impact on the lives of our families if more young professionals joined us in supporting our 12×12 program for the House? The possibilities are endless and only requires a minor budget adjustment.
I’m optimistic about 2019 and all the ways families from all over the country – and the world – will be impacted by the relief that is provided by RMHC of Central Ohio this new year and for years to come.
Editor’s note: If you are interested in learning more about Red Shoe Society or hosting a community fundraiser send an email to Lindsey.Beggin@rmhc-centralohio.org or call her at 614-227-3727.