Early Birth at a Pre-Wedding Party Leads to Ronald McDonald Family Room

By Rev. Judy Noble, Pastor, St. Lukes Presbyterian Church, Titusville, FL

Our daughter, Ashlee, and her husband, Jacob, lived in Florida and were visiting Ohio the last weekend of May 2021 for a bachelorette/bachelor weekend at Hocking Hills to celebrate our youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding that August. Ashlee was 31 weeks into her pregnancy and developed severe preeclampsia. She was triaged in Hocking Valley Community Hospital, then transported by ambulance to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital unit at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital where the medical team helped her deliver their first child, Gabriel. Our family went into support mode for Ashlee, Jacob and Gabriel as they were more than 1,000 miles from home and without anything except what they had packed for their vacation week.

Ashlee, Jacob, and two of our family members who served as their NICU additional support team used the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Riverside Hospital as a place to rest, eat, and refocus during the seven weeks that Gabriel was in the NICU. Ashlee and Jacob also were blessed with the opportunity to live at The Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, which gave them a beautiful and supportive place to live while Jacob and Ashlee were learning to parent a son in the NICU and who both were unable to work because they were so far from home.

As Ashlee’s mom, I was the visitor who was able to be their support person from The Ronald McDonald House. During this time of Covid-19, just one visitor per family was allowed in the Ronald McDonald Family Room, so I was also able to visit them at the hospital and retreat to the family room where I was close by when they needed me. I saw firsthand how the staff and physical space of both the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Riverside Hospital impacted the ability of Ashlee and Jacob to navigate the deep challenges they faced during those first seven weeks of Gabriel’s life. As a pastor who has journeyed with people in many different hospitals, I can say that the Columbus Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Riverside Hospital are two of the biggest gifts I have ever seen for families who are in some of the most emotionally and physically overwhelming days of their lives.
Gabriel will celebrate his first birthday at the end of this month and we are forever grateful for the gift you gave our family of support, space, and help during his first weeks of life. Thank you for your wisdom, vision, teamwork, commitment, and love for our family and thousands of others!