Nothing tells the story of the Ronald McDonald House like the experiences of our families. Each is uniquely compelling, but all are united by a common thread of courage, hope and love. Read some of the stories that inspire us every day.

Payne Family

I’ve Found the Way

What brought Sergeant Chris Payne to the Ronald McDonald House to volunteer?  A baby girl with a hole in her heart. Five years ago, little Emma was born to Chris and his wife Tara in a rural clinic 90 miles outside Kansas City.  The baby came quickly – just after the doctor arrived.  And just […]

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A Place to
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I’ve Found the Way

What brought Sergeant Chris Payne to the Ronald McDonald House to volunteer?  A baby girl with a hole in her heart.

Five years ago, little Emma was born to Chris and his wife Tara in a rural clinic 90 miles outside Kansas City.  The baby came quickly – just after the doctor arrived.  And just as quickly they realized that Emma needed specialized care. Within a couple of hours, she was rushed to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Emma has Down syndrome and was born with an Atrioventricular Canal – a congenital heart defect.  She spent 10 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) while her parents stayed nearby in the Ronald McDonald House. Six months later, they stayed at the House for six days when Emma had heart surgery.

“She did fantastic and recovered phenomenally,” Chris said. “But I missed a lot of work that year and it cost us a lot of money.  Staying at the Ronald McDonald House made us feel like we were at home.  Not having to worry about things like meals or washing our clothes gave us time to think about our baby.”

The Payne family moved to Tucson five years ago when Chris was transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  He oversees the weapons load-crew training and is a cabinet member of the Davis-Monthan Weapons Booster Club. Chris and his crew were at the Ronald McDonald House cooking lunch a few weeks ago.

“I have always been wanting to give back to the Ronald McDonald House and now I’ve found the way.”


Thanks to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City for taking such good care of our new friends.

To join volunteers like Chris and the DM-WBC, visit the Chef for a Day page and schedule your meal.

Introducing Cruz

Introducing Cruz

We wish you could meet all the children and families you are helping when you support the Ronald McDonald House, but for today, here’s one of them. Meet our  little fighter, Cruz. Cruz was born full-term, but had medical complications due to his mother’s drug use during pregnancy. In stepped his new adoptive parents, Jacqueline […]

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Introducing Cruz

We wish you could meet all the children and families you are helping when you support the Ronald McDonald House, but for today, here’s one of them.

Meet our  little fighter, Cruz.

Cruz was born full-term, but had medical complications due to his mother’s drug use during pregnancy. In stepped his new adoptive parents, Jacqueline and Derek, who were ready to give Cruz his best chance in life. They traveled from Virginia with three-year old, new big sister Amaya to be by his bedside through his struggles.

Note from the WangsYour support through donations, goods, and meals meant that Derek and Jacqueline could stay close to both Cruz and Amaya during this critical time in the building of their family. They didn’t have to choose who would stay home and who would make the trip across the country. Their family could start out as a family – one complete unit.

While they stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, the Wangs made it a point to thank every Chef for a Day group. Mealtime was so important to them, and they deeply felt the emotional (and culinary!) support from these volunteers. In fact, it was so important to them that they decided to give back by cooking for the entire House one weekend evening!

The Wang family would like you to know that you make a difference.

Whether through your donations or your volunteerism, you are keeping families together, and close to the care that they need.  On behalf of all the children and families we serve, THANK YOU.

To learn more about how to get involved, visit any one of the following pages:

HOW TO HELPEVENTSOTHER WAYS TO GIVE

kids montage

Summer Smiles

Water toys and smiles. Arts & crafts and family time. Music and joy. These are just a few of the ways this summer YOU have helped create this special place called the Ronald McDonald House. During an otherwise difficult time for kids who are sick, you have helped fill their days and their lives with […]

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Summer Smiles

Water toys and smiles. Arts & crafts and family time. Music and joy.

These are just a few of the ways this summer YOU have helped create this special place called the Ronald McDonald House. During an otherwise difficult time for kids who are sick, you have helped fill their days and their lives with new friends, a lot of laughter, and a place to call home.

Dalio is the sweetest young boy who on a June day spent hours playing in the sprinklers. For that afternoon, he didn’t have to worry about his new baby brother who was born prematurely. His mom and dad could watch him be a kid and have some fun.

The Griffits kids and the Maples kids became the best of friends while their families cared for their siblings who needed some special attention. They turned the kitchen into craft central – organizing painting and pottery sessions that kept everyone active and engaged. Most afternoons were filled with a chorus of the Disney soundtrack of the day, specially crafted by these confident sopranos – no background music necessary.

Four-year-old Amaya got involved too. Then her parents volunteered to cook dinner for the whole House one night. You could tell that meal time was important to this family. We noticed they thanked each and every volunteer Chef for a Day group every day.

When the the House is busy, this special magic happens. Your support as a volunteer or a donor means that, not only do the doors of the House stay open to welcome each new guest, but those guests have the emotional and physical resources they need to stengthen each other.

Thanks for giving them the most precious gifts of time, love, and togetherness.

Krystal in her birthday crown

I Will Be Okay

Krystal was born in Yuma with cleft palate and birth defects in her hands and feet. Since she was two months old she’s received specialized care in Tucson — multiple surgeries and monthly doctor visits and visits to the Ronald McDonald House. Our staff has watched her grow up and also befriended mom and dad, […]

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I Will Be Okay

Krystal was born in Yuma with cleft palate and birth defects in her hands and feet. Since she was two months old she’s received specialized care in Tucson — multiple surgeries and monthly doctor visits and visits to the Ronald McDonald House. Our staff has watched her grow up and also befriended mom and dad, Theresa and Jesus, and big sister Frankie.

So far, the Encinas Family has stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for 57 nights. Every time they visit, Jesus and Theresa tell us how very much they appreciate everything we do for them and the girls. “I can’t imagine Krystal going through everything she has been through and everything ahead of her if she didn’t have the Ronald McDonald House,” Jesus said.

Last month when he told her that she was going to have another surgery, she cried for a minute or two and then said, “Oh well, I guess that’s what I have to do, but I will be okay because I get to go to the Ronald McDonald House.”

Krystal has grown up to be a kind and confident little girl. After a facial surgery this month she came to the front desk still bruised from the surgery and asked if she could “volunteer” for us. Cheri Goldman, our Director of House Operations, asked her what she wanted to do and she said, “I want to wipe off the germs from all the doors ‘cause we have to take care of this place.”

Her time at the Ronald McDonald House has helped teach her the importance of giving back – and she’s only five!

Stacye and Olivia

The Sky’s the Limit for This One

Olivia was born in Las Vegas on March 20, 2015 to Stacye and Jack — 6 pounds, 8 ounces, blonde hair, blue eyes. Right away there were some hard-to-explain complications but it wasn’t until she was two months old that she was diagnosed with a very rare inherited bone marrow syndrome. It’s called Congenital Amegakaryocytic […]

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Be A Family

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The Sky’s the Limit for This One

Olivia was born in Las Vegas on March 20, 2015 to Stacye and Jack — 6 pounds, 8 ounces, blonde hair, blue eyes. Right away there were some hard-to-explain complications but it wasn’t until she was two months old that she was diagnosed with a very rare inherited bone marrow syndrome.

It’s called Congenital Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia (CAMT); there are only 100 diagnosed cases worldwide.  It is usually diagnosed in infancy and the only treatment is a bone marrow transplant.  The family was referred to Dr. Emmanuel Katsanis at Banner Children’s Diamond Children’s Medical Center.  Though internationally acclaimed for his work in pediatric bone marrow transplantation, Olivia was the first child he had seen with this disease.

Stacye knew they’d be in Tucson for many months and with five-year-old Josie to care for as well, she was concerned about finding the right place. Jack’s insurance would pay for a motel but they also came to visit the Ronald McDonald House.

“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Stacye said.  “But we just loved it here.  The people are so friendly. The staff really takes care of you.  Dinner time at the House is really great.  It’s a very social time to meet other families who are going through what you are – we’ve stayed friends with some of them.”

Mom and Josie stayed at the House while Olivia was in the hospital.  Eventually Olivia was out of isolation and joined them here.  Jack stayed in Las Vegas to keep working.  All told, the family was at the House for 84 nights.

“It’s lonely in the hospital when you are here from out of town.  Staying at the House made it less lonely. It was a blessing to be so welcomed there.” 

Stacye and her family spent last Mother’s Day at the Ronald McDonald House. And even though she loved it here she’s happy to be back home in Las Vegas, with two-year-old Olivia 100% cured of this incredibly rare disease.

“If this little girl ever says there’s something she can’t do, I’m going to remind her of everything she’s been through already.  The sky’s the limit for this one!”


 

Josie, Stacye, & OliviaEvery day at the Ronald McDonald House, we meet a mother who is struggling in more ways than we can imagine.

  • A single mom who has to leave her job and her older children to care for her five-year-old who has cancer.
  • A young mother trying to finish high school while her tiny, premature baby spends months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
  • A mom with two autistic sons with inexplicable medical issues.

These moms also want the best for their children and are doing everything they can for their kids. The stress is unbelievable.  Dealing with sometimes life-threatening illnesses, keeping their child’s spirits up (and their own), worrying about the rest of the family and of course, about paying for all the medical bills.

At the Ronald McDonald House, we can provide some respite for these moms – nearly 600 of them each year.  Here, they have a beautiful place to stay, home-cooked meals, laundry facilities, transportation and TLC. Because of your support, we can provide this support to moms at no charge.

This year will you consider honoring your mother, by honoring moms like Stacye who rely on the Ronald McDonald House to make a terrible situation a little bit better?  Your gift stays in Tucson to help families in our community. With your help, we can give them one less thing to worry about – on Mother’s Day and every day.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and the children they love.

 

 

Mason on his tricycle

Solace

Call it a mother’s instinct.  Christina knew that there was something going on with her four-year-old son Mason.  He wasn’t feeling well.  He had a fever and was breathing differently.  He was crying in the night and his cries sounded different to her.   Mason has asthma so his pediatrician didn’t think they symptoms were […]

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Solace

Call it a mother’s instinct.  Christina knew that there was something going on with her four-year-old son Mason.  He wasn’t feeling well.  He had a fever and was breathing differently.  He was crying in the night and his cries sounded different to her.

 

Mason has asthma so his pediatrician didn’t think they symptoms were abnormal.  He thought they were virus-related.  Mom thought otherwise and she “encouraged” the pediatrician (whom she works for) to run some tests.   Within a week he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which is the most common form of pediatric cancer.  Of course it wasn’t common to Christina or anyone in her family.

 

Christina had to leave her two daughters with her mom in Sierra Vista so Mason could start chemotherapy at Banner Children’s Diamond Children’s Medical Center.  Right now he is in remission but treatment will continue for up to three more years.

Mason & Christina
Photographs courtesy of Chris Richards, Tucson photographer

 

At first Christina slept at the hospital in the room with Mason.  Then she finally took a night off and moved into the Ronald McDonald House.

 


“It was the first time in three weeks that I’d slept in a bed and I think I cried all night long.  It was the first time I could just feel what I feel and not have to be strong for Mason. “


 

Since October, Christina and Mason have spent more than 30 nights at the Ronald McDonald House. Mason calls us “his people at the Donald House.”  For Christina, the House is more than just a place to sleep. She says, “It’s good to have you all at RMHC that are now part of our support team.”