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.

Xander and his mom Michelle

TMC Foundation Lactation Suite

That’s a big yawn from baby Xander! Being a baby is tough work, and, often, so is being a parent of and infant. Especially when your baby is born weeks ahead of schedule. Michelle spent 41 nights at the Ronald McDonald House while Xander was being cared for in the Northwest Medical Center NICU. During […]

Read More

A Place to
Be A Family

h

TMC Foundation Lactation Suite

That’s a big yawn from baby Xander!

Being a baby is tough work, and, often, so is being a parent of and infant. Especially when your baby is born weeks ahead of schedule.

Michelle spent 41 nights at the Ronald McDonald House while Xander was being cared for in the Northwest Medical Center NICU. During that time, she came to appreciate “making friends with all of the other moms here at the House. There was a lot of support and we had our own little community.”

When a child is hospitalized, it can be a very isolating experience – alone in a new place, machines beeping, crushing uncertainty from one moment to the next. Michelle recalled how difficult the initial stages of breastfeeding can be, and how support and encouragement from her new friends at the Ronald McDonald House was key. Families here have a “little community” through which they can share stories, successes, and struggles, keeping their world as open and airy as the Tucson desert.

Nearly one-third of our families at the Tucson Ronald McDonald House have a baby in the NICU, so we’re creating a special place just for those moms. Soon we’ll open the TMC Foundation Lactation Suite. It will be a beautiful room devoted to those mothers who are breastfeeding or need to pump breast milk for their babies who have to stay at the hospital. The room will have at least two chairs, separated by a privacy screen. There will be a refrigerator/freezer, beautiful artwork, television, oil diffuser, and a special entrance lock so it can only be accessed by the families who need it. The Lactation Suite will have several medical-grade pumps, saving some families rental or purchase fees.

Soon moms just like Michelle will have their own space that is peaceful and appropriately private.


In the next couple of weeks, you may receive our Gratitude Report in the mail. You’ll read about the TMC Foundation Lactation Suite and the new ways we’re expanding “beyond the House.” Keep an eye on this space and we’ll add a link here to the digital version as well.

If you are interested in supporting this project and others like it, please call us at 520-326-0060 or visit the Donate page.

Carpena

Rotating Shifts

Families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House operate on every conceivable schedule – and even some inconceivable ones. Take, for instance, Esme & Alejandro, parents of baby Ana Sofia. Ana was born prematurely at 33 weeks. Like many early babies, she needed care in the NICU for several weeks. The doctors predicted the family […]

Read More

A Place to
Be A Family

h

Rotating Shifts

Families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House operate on every conceivable schedule – and even some inconceivable ones. Take, for instance, Esme & Alejandro, parents of baby Ana Sofia.

Ana was born prematurely at 33 weeks. Like many early babies, she needed care in the NICU for several weeks. The doctors predicted the family would be at Banner Diamond Children’s for 7 weeks – that’s a 150-mile round-trip car ride from home. Instead, they stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, just minutes from the hospital.

Esme & Alejandro are the most loving and dedicated parents. They were at the hospital constantly, rotating shifts every night. One night Esme would stay and sleep at the hospital and Alejandro would come back late to the RMH for a few hours for rest, a shower, and to grab some food to bring back to Esme. The next night, Esme would come back to the House and Alejandro would stay.

Ana Sofia had all the support she could have asked for – love from Mom and Dad and expert medical care from her doctors & nurses.

And guess what? After only 3 weeks, she was doing so well that the whole family was able to go back home, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

They thanked us with tears of gratitude when they left yesterday and their thanks should be shared with you.

Your support of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona meant that Esme & Alejandro could stay here for 16 nights. What would have cost over $3000 in hotel costs alone (assuming they could have even found a hotel room during Gem Show season in Tucson) cost them nothing. Food, gas, and laundry? Nothing. That’s money that can now go toward their mortgage, grocery bills, even Ana Sofia’s college fund…all because of your gifts.

This year we expect over 600 family visits, and you can help ensure that those families’ visits are free for them, too. Remember that you can make a gift that qualifies for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit now and through April 15. Your gift may be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar return on your State tax return. For information visit rmhctucson.org/tax-credit and to make a gift, visit rmhctucson.org/donate.

Sydni & Geri

Lessons from a Teenager

Sydni Lee is 16-years-old. In February, she was a varsity cheerleader at Payson High School, a member of high school drama club, a scholar, a fun-loving teenager. In March she was diagnosed with Familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (Familial HLH), a rare disorder of the immune system, affecting one in 1.2 million people. The treatment for Familial […]

Read More

A Place to
Be A Family

h

Lessons from a Teenager

Sydni Lee is 16-years-old. In February, she was a varsity cheerleader at Payson High School, a member of high school drama club, a scholar, a fun-loving teenager. In March she was diagnosed with Familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (Familial HLH), a rare disorder of the immune system, affecting one in 1.2 million people. The treatment for Familial HLH is like leukemia – chemotherapy to knock out the damaged immune system, then a bone marrow transplant to replace it.

But that’s a simple version of a complex story. Sydni endured thirteen weeks of chemo, spinal taps, CT scans and blood transfusions. There was difficulty finding a perfect donor match, and difficulty with the bone marrow transplant. After the transplant in July, she was in isolation for 43 days and suffered a host of painful complications. Migraines. Mouth sores. Fevers. Inability to eat, drink or talk. In all, a six-month stay at the Ronald McDonald House, along with her mom, Geri,

BraceletBut Sydni is not her disease. She is a young woman whose spirit is soaring, in spite of this wretched disease. Seriously, she wears a bracelet, “Find Joy in the Journey.”

When finding a bone marrow donor became difficult, she created her own video, which inspired 500 more people to sign up for the bone marrow registry.

After the transplant, when eating was difficult, her mom, Geri, said, “Faith and humor were her main staples.”

In the hospital one day, she took out her ukulele and joined a duo of folk singers, entertaining the staff and teaching songs to toddlers with cancer. An impromptu, joyful concert while Sydni and the young patients were hooked up to IV poles and wearing surgical masks. The song?

One Day by Matisyahu

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it´ll all turn around

“Sydni never complains,” Geri says. “I’ve been traumatized by what I’ve seen my child go through, but I have never heard her complain.”

Since they’ve spent so much time at the Ronald McDonald House, we’ve all grown to love Sydni and Geri. And enjoyed some Friday afternoon concerts.

“Staying at the Ronald McDonald House allowed us to use our funds to save our home”, Geri said. “I would have lost everything. I can’t imagine where we would be financially, mentally, emotionally without being able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. To me, it’s not [just] the Ronald McDonald House, it’s a home.”

While there’s no story or no family that’s just like Sydni’s, there are hundreds of families that need the Ronald McDonald House each year. More than 650 families called this House their home last year. You help create this wonderful “home-away-from-home.” All families stay here for free because of your past support.

Remember when you give to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona, every dollar stays here in Tucson to help families through one of the most stressful times of their life.

Sydni and her mom are in Payson now, more than they are Tucson. But they still stay with us for a few days at a time when they are here for follow-up care.

“Now we’re both in good spirits, but I’m definitely ready for the next chapter,” Geri said.

Dianne with Play Button

I’ll Never Forget Everything You Did For Us

If you’ve ever wondered about the families you help when you volunteer or donate, take a minute to hear directly from the Westfalls, who want to thank you for becoming part of their family. To help children like Maddie, visit the How to Help page where you can learn about Chef for a Day, the […]

Read More

A Place to
Be A Family

I’ll Never Forget Everything You Did For Us

If you’ve ever wondered about the families you help when you volunteer or donate, take a minute to hear directly from the Westfalls, who want to thank you for becoming part of their family.

To help children like Maddie, visit the How to Help page where you can learn about Chef for a Day, the Red Shoe Society, Community Fundriasers, Legacy Gifts, and more.

Sara & Logan

Gratitude Mode

A message from our Kate: People often ask me if it’s sad to work at the Ronald McDonald House. But honestly, even though the House is filled with families who have sick (sometimes very sick) children, there is happiness here. Not the jump for joy kind. The kind of happiness you get when you feel […]

Read More

A Place to
Be A Family

h

Gratitude Mode

A message from our Kate:

People often ask me if it’s sad to work at the Ronald McDonald House. But honestly, even though the House is filled with families who have sick (sometimes very sick) children, there is happiness here. Not the jump for joy kind. The kind of happiness you get when you feel at home. When you feel cared for. When you know you are not alone. Our families remind us daily that a house is more than just a place. It’s a feeling.

When Sara Reeder put her newborn son, Logan, in a car seat to head back home to Yuma last week, she was in, as she puts it, “full-on gratitude mode.”

More than two years ago, doctors had told Sara that it was unlikely she could ever be a mom.  So when she got pregnant, there were concerns. A previous surgery for uterine fibroids made her pregnancy very high risk, and she wanted to do everything she could to have a healthy baby.

Because spontaneous labor could endanger both her life and the baby’s, doctors in Yuma wanted to deliver the baby when she was 34 weeks pregnant and baby Logan was only 3.5 pounds.

But Sara knew Logan was too little to be born that early, so she insisted there had to be another way. The only option, her doctor advised, was to spend a month in Tucson, near a hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). How could she afford to spend a month away from home?

Before she even started worrying about paying for a hotel, a social worker at Banner University Medical Center told her about the Ronald McDonald House.  Your gift to RMHC will help provide this warm, caring, safe place to stay, close to a great hospital in Tucson, all at no cost to families like hers.

Although our primary mission is providing care for families of sick children, we are also able to provide short-term housing for women with high-risk pregnancies.

Sara was a guest at the Ronald McDonald House for 30 days. She was sometimes accompanied by her cousin, her aunt, her friend, or her boyfriend, Marc. Sara says she felt welcomed the minute she checked in.

“There were baby quilts and toys on the bed – like they were expecting me!  And everyone was so kind and accommodating. I never felt like I was in a hotel.  This place is so heartwarming. Having people cook for you makes you feel like you are part of the family.”

And about the gratitude?  On October 30, Sara gave birth to baby Logan, who was 5 ½ pounds and “perfect,” said his parents.  Since she was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House for four weeks, her son got to spend that time developing in the womb, rather than in an incubator in the NICU.

You can make this possible for future families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Your gift will help more than 600 families like Sara’s each year.  You can help create this wonderful “home-away-from-home.” It is only because of our community’s support that all the families who stay here stay at no charge.

I know from talking to Sara and other families how much the Ronald McDonald House means to them.  But the thanks go deeper than words – as does our gratitude for your support of our mission.

Remember, when you give to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona, every dollar stays here in Tucson to help families through one of the most stressful times in their lives.

From all the children and families we serve, thank you.

Sincerely,

Kate Maguire Jensen

President & CEO

P.S.       More families like Sara’s are arriving at our House every day. YOU can help them too.  Your gift will let them focus on what matters most – their child’s health.

A note from DIanne

Giving Thanks

A message from Dianne and Matthew, an active duty family with the US Army. At the time of their daughter’s birth, they were stationed at Fort Huachuca, 75 miles from Diamond Children’s Medical Center. During our daughter’s 4-month stay at the NICU at Banner Children’s Diamond Children’s Medical Center there were many times when we […]

Read More

A Place to
Be A Family

h

Giving Thanks

A message from Dianne and Matthew, an active duty family with the US Army. At the time of their daughter’s birth, they were stationed at Fort Huachuca, 75 miles from Diamond Children’s Medical Center.

During our daughter’s 4-month stay at the NICU at Banner Children’s Diamond Children’s Medical Center there were many times when we didn’t want to leave our daughter’s bedside. We often spent 10- to 12-hour days at the hospital.
We were able to maintain our sanity by making quick runs to the Ronald McDonald Family Room for a snack and a cup of coffee. The Family Room allowed us to recharge our batteries when we were drained and get a brief break from whatever stress we were facing.
We want to thank Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Family Room volunteers for making that valuable resource available to us during our daughter’s time in the hospital.
Sincerely,
Dianne and Matthew Westfall, parents of Madison “Maddie” Westfall
183 nights at the Ronald McDonald House