2 May 2012

Imagine...McHappy Day 2012

Imagine…expecting your first child to arrive in 9 weeks; the excitement and anticipation.  Imagine…unexpectedly and without warning, delivering your baby 9 weeks too soon; the fear and heartache.  Imagine…your first mother’s day, a child only seven minutes old, and fighting to survive.  A mother and father able to do nothing but hope, watch, and wait.
Imagine…less than two years later; expecting twins—anticipation high and the idea of premature delivery in the back of everyone’s minds. Imagine…the same thing unfolding, only 13 weeks too soon and with even more on the line: The health and well-being of not one, but two small babies.  Another mother’s day comes and goes and you still have yet to hold either child—too unwell and fragile to be out of their isolettes.
Now imagine having to watch your babies being transported by ambulance to a Level III NICU, outside your hometown and away from all that you know, including your family.  Your new home is a NICU.  Suddenly you are surrounded by the uncomfortable sounds of quiet, repetitive beeps of machines, the slow and then the fast paced alarms of dozens of premature babies in their isolettes.  It is a whole new world you must quickly adapt to and try to get used to.  Even if you’ve already been through the experience once, it’s never an experience you will be one hundred percent used to.  You now must rely on the knowledge and expertise of medical professionals, putting much of the care of your babies in their hands in the very early days.

Imagine the isolation a mother and father can face in this situation.  Feeling “alone” in place filled with people.  Lacking their own support network and feeling no one can really understand if they haven’t experienced this situation.  Now imagine having the option to have a place to go to and call your “home away from home,” whether for a short period of time or for several months. A home built to suit the needs of many families and differing dynamics.  A home that is comfortable, inviting and clean.  The kind of home in which one can go back to for a fresh cooked dinner, without the worry of dealing with cooking it and occupying important time that would be better spent in the NICU.  A home in which other people are going through similar experiences and are able to build a connection with others for moral support.  There is a place like this.  It is called Ronald McDonald House.  The Ronald McDonald House strives to provide a positive and comfortable place for families with un-well children living in a hospital.  Thankfully, our area is fortunate to have access to a House in Hamilton, London (SWO) and Toronto—three of the common sites for the children of our region to receive lifesaving, acute and long-term healthcare.
These Houses would not be able to run without donor support.  For $25.00 a family can eat breakfast before starting their day at the hospital.  It takes $100.00 to keep a bathroom stocked for one month.  A little bit can go a long way in a house that is always up and running 24 hours a day for families in need.  It takes over 1000 volunteers across Canada to help keep the homes in tip top shape and to carry out various daily activities and special events.  A lot of effort is put into having a “home away from home” for families in need.
As my family marks the second and fourth birthdays of our premature children, we also mark McHappy Day, along with another Mother’s Day quickly approaching.  This coming Wednesday, May 2, is McHappy Day at all McDonald’s Restaurants.  My family will be assisting with raising funds for this wonderful cause.  Funds raised in our region will be going to the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton and KidsAbility.  Shortly after this event, Ronald McDonald House Hamilton will also be hosting the 3rd annual Footsteps for Families walk-a-thon to assist with raising funds for their newly renovated House.  After a major renovation the home will be increased from 15 to 40 rooms for families to stay.
We have much to be grateful for and a lot of that is thanks to the wonderful people at the Ronald McDonald House Hamilton and the KidsAbility staff, whom we’ve come to know well.

Please “help our home grow” in Hamilton by visiting your local McDonald’s Restaurant or visiting my family’s Footsteps for Families fundraising page at http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?SID=3291302&langPref=en-CA or visit http://footstepsforfamilies.com  or http://helpourhomegrow.ca/ for more information.

This story also ran in the Cambridge Times newspaper on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, ironically the twins 2nd Birthday.  http://www.cambridgetimes.ca/community/article/1345572--a-home-away-from-home

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