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.

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 […]

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A Place to
Be A Family

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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

Charlotte & Ronald

175 Nights & Counting

It all started with a pair of roller skates. Charlotte Randall, then 18, fell while roller skating and hurt her tailbone. When it wouldn’t stop hurting, she visited a physician assistant in Bullhead City, AZ. The PA said her tailbone would heal in time, but, “Oh – you have two heart murmurs.” The PA was […]

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A Place to
Be A Family

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175 Nights & Counting

It all started with a pair of roller skates.

Charlotte Randall, then 18, fell while roller skating and hurt her tailbone. When it wouldn’t stop hurting, she visited a physician assistant in Bullhead City, AZ. The PA said her tailbone would heal in time, but, “Oh – you have two heart murmurs.” The PA was concerned, especially when she realized that Charlotte’s resting heart rate was nearly 60% higher than normal.

A few doctors later, she was diagnosed with ‘inappropriate sinus tachycardia,’ (aka an abnormally fast heartbeat.) Medications weren’t working so eventually her family made the six-hour drive to Tucson to see Dr. Peter Ott, Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Banner University Medical Center. Dt. Ott performed a few procedures to try to regulate her heartbeat. Then he installed a pacemaker.

That’s when Charlotte and her family found the Ronald McDonald House.

“This is an amazing place to stay,” Charlotte said. “I rave about it to all the nurses at the hospital.”

Until August, things were going well. Then Charlotte developed sepsis, which caused endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves.) Three weeks in the hospital has turned into a lengthy stay in Tucson. Charlotte and her mom, Merlynn, have been guests of the Ronald McDonald House for 175 nights.

“It’s our sanctuary,” Merlynn said. “We get to just chill and relax here and meet other parents – some who have things worse than we do. And it would have been very expensive to try to stay in a hotel for all these months.”

Now this 22-year-old is in cardiac rehab – the youngest patient in the program by several decades. She is one-third of the way through her 36 sessions and hopes that then she can return home and think about starting community college. Not surprisingly, she wants to study science.

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
Be A Family

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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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A Place to
Be A Family

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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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A Place to
Be A Family

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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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A Place to
Be A Family

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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!