When Zack was born and we were aware of his urgent medical needs, we spent the night at our local hospital begging for a room in Toronto- our other options were London, Hamilton or Montreal! Had we needed to travel beyond our own city, we would have needed to have the support of a place like the Ronald McDonald House and that idea terrified me that night, beyond the panic of having a child who was fighting for his life. How could our other kids handle being uprooted? How could my husband's job understand that we had to relocate for our son? Thank goodness we never had to worry about uprooting our family to care for our little fighter. I can't imagine how this could have made an already horrible situation even more heartbreaking for the entire family. But so many families are in this situation every day.
I was fortunate to meet the amazing mommy of one of Zack's first roommates, Ben. She was from Guelph and had to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto while Ben received several operations for his heart defects. He was hospitalized for much of his first year and Michelle left her home and her husband to stay close to Ben in Toronto. She stayed by Ben's side from morning to night and we would sit our rocking chairs together and talk while our boys slept. When she needed a little break, she'd walk back her small but comfortable room at RMH down the street (at the original location) and have a shower or rest. The nurses would page her when Ben woke up, so that his Mommy was always there when he opened his eyes. I remember talking to her about the difficulties of leaving home, her job and family and how appreciative she was to have been accepted into the RMH. She also felt less isolated by being surrounded by other parents who were going through exactly the same thing. She made so many friendships during that time and I'm so glad I'm one of them.
In the years since Zack's earliest hospital stay, I have met many inspiring families like my friends Kayla and Sawyer who regularly stay at the new Ronald McDonald House in Toronto or Lisa and Wyatt who stayed during most of Wyatt's short life. I've even had the opportunity to tour the facilities and see that not only does this incredible place exude love and kindness, the new facility has evolved to a really beautiful building that offers respite and privacy during a crazy and scary time in a parent's life. I was especially impressed with the school within the grounds, where siblings can carry on their studies when they are there supporting their sick brothers or sisters.
This year, as always, our family will be having dinner at McDonald's and supporting McHappy Day for Zack, Sawyer, Wyatt, Ben and so many other kids and their families who depend on Ronald McDonald House Charities.
McHappy Day raises funds for children’s charities across the country such as Ronald McDonald Houses. McDonald’s® Canada community involvement efforts are yearlong. Since 2004, the company has raised more than $36 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC) Canada by donating 10 cents from the sale of every Happy Meal. McDonald’s Canada covers all of RMHC’s administrative and operating costs, making it possible for 100 per cent of every directly donated dollar to go to Ronald McDonald Houses and their programs.
RMHC Canada is the national organization that supports Ronald McDonald Houses and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms across the country, which provides families of sick children a home-away-from-home or a place of peace and calm within a hospital.
Ronald McDonald Houses help give sick children what they need most – their families.
In the time it takes to grab a coffee or eat a meal, you could make a big difference in a child’s life. $1 from every Big Mac®, Happy Meal®, and hot McCafé® beverage you buy will be donated to Ronald McDonald Houses and other local children’s charities across Canada.
Watch this video to see how your support REALLY makes a difference.