The Grandest Gift

Twelve and a half years ago, we were given the grandest gift of our lives, that was the day our sweet son, Reilly, was born. The moment they placed our newborn son into our arms, we knew our family was complete. 

It wasn’t long, only a matter of hours after he was born, before our bright-eyed boy began vomiting and it didn’t slow down until he was nine months old.  Through many tests that weighed heavily on our hearts, we excluded several things, but we weren’t able to put our finger on the cause of the vomiting, little weight gain, and colon issues.

From the age of nine months to five years, our precious Reilly was no longer constantly getting sick.  He was a “normal” little boy who loved life, playing in the dirt, eating all kinds of foods and just being a kid.

Our first walk into the Ronald McDonald House across from the hospital had us breathing a sigh of relief.

In November of 2016, we began to notice changes in Reilly’s health that once again had us worried. We began a new round of testing, which led to more rounds of testing, which led to hospital visits in both Indianapolis and Chicago.  It was while we were at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago that we were introduced to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

In 2019, Reilly was referred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, with a diagnosis of Rumination Syndrome and Gastroparesis.  We knew immediately upon meeting the team at NCH, we had found our new “home.”  Our first walk into the Ronald McDonald House across from the hospital had us breathing a sigh of relief.  Being checked in by welcoming staff, among others, we knew we wouldn’t have a worry about missing the comforts of home while Reilly was being treated across the street. 

The RMH of Central Ohio has been our “Home Away From Home” on many occasions since that first time in 2019.  It was our home for the holidays over Christmas and New Years in 2020- 2021.  No one wants to be away from their family and home at any time, but being there for most of December and into January tugged at our hearts a little stronger.  The employees and volunteers went above and beyond to bring cheer every single day, while not to mention we were still in the middle of a global pandemic. We woke up on Christmas morning to find “Santa” had come and dropped off bags full of goodies outside our door.  Christmas cookies were baked and love was shared. 

Going through such a hard time and knowing that meals are offered, laundry services are available, quiet places are provided, ears are there to listen, and smiles are there to be shared–there’s nothing quite like it. On more than one occasion, volunteers and staff were found flinging rubber chickens back and forth with our kiddo-simply because he asked them to.  The opportunity to have other family members stay with us is unmatched and is such a comfort during very stressful times.  The activities that we get to participate in while staying at the House help us push our worries to the back of our minds and just BE.

We have met some amazing people at the Ronald McDonald House–those we now consider to be lifelong friends.  The community you build as a RMH Family is like no other.  The comfort they provide when you have a sick kiddo and feel like life won’t ever be normal again, is unmatched.  While we hope that one day we’ll no longer need the services of being a RMH Family, it will most certainly always hold a very special place in our hearts.  The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio absolutely puts the EXTRA in extraordinary. 

The Woods Family