by Jamie Foltz
Hello! My name is Jamie Foltz, and I am the Director of Special Events for Ronald McDonald House Charities and I’d like to tell you a story. It’s one you may have heard before. This story is about a girl named Dorothy, who lives an ordinary life. Just like you and I, Dorothy wouldn’t say she is anything special–she’s just Dorothy. She lives in a rural world where she works hard to help her family and take care of her little dog. However, out of the blue, Dorothy’s life gets completely turned upside down. She’s going about her daily routine, taking care of her precious pup when she runs into some nasty weather. Before she knows it, the skies turn gray, the wind begins to switch, and the turbulent tornado she finds herself in lands her in a frightening, unfamiliar world.
As Dorothy arrives in this new land, she is greeted by the friendliest faces she has ever seen. While Dorothy is scared to be lost and away from home, she is comforted by this new land, her home-away-from-home. As Dorothy finds her way in this new place, she is helped by the friends she meets who are in similar situations. They teach her about staying smart and focused on the goal. They show her how the love of strangers can take away worlds of worry. They give her courage in her journey to stay strong for that perfect little pup she loves so much. She comes to rely on those strangers who turned into friends.
The Dorothy in my story probably isn’t the Dorothy you’re thinking of. My Dorothy doesn’t live in a land somewhere over the rainbow, but rather in a harsh reality where children are sick and families find themselves struggling to get by in a place that is anything but familiar. You see, my Dorothy is a young mom whose child was in a tragic accident. Out of the blue, her baby was thrown into a world where the obstacles seemed insurmountable. Dorothy never felt comfortable until she arrived in that magical place called The Ronald McDonald House, a place where she found friendship in complete strangers who were also struggling in similar situations. She saw generosity in its strongest form. Her worries were lessened and her fears eased so that all she had to focus on was getting that precious baby of hers well. As she rocked that sweet little girl to sleep each night, she would repeat three times “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
So why do I tell you this story about Dorothy? Just last week, The Red Shoe Society hosted our final big event of the year called A Toast to Tinseltown; There’s No Place Like Home. The Ivory Room was transformed into that brilliant and vibrant world Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Over 250 special guests joined us for a truly magical evening where compassion and generosity came together to celebrate the lives of everyday people who face extraordinary obstacles. Special people who bring friendship like Glenda the Good Witch were honored for their time, talent and treasure. People like Dorothy were celebrated for the hardships they overcome and courage they bring to their kids who fight the good fight each and every day. This very special event was brought to life by the almost unbelievable similarities between the Ronald McDonald House and The Land of Oz. When we think about how we make it through the ups and downs of life, we can look to the land of make believe to help us learn some of the best lessons life has to offer. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz said, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”