The Randalls: An Unexpected Family Tradition



“Ronald McDonald House is like a second home to us. This is an amazing place to stay.” – Charlotte Randall


Merlynn and Don Randall had their first visits to a Ronald McDonald House (in Durham, North Carolina) 22 years ago. Their son, Donald, was born with a severe acquired immune disorder and required a bone marrow transplant when he was 7 months old. He thrived and years later they needed the Ronald McDonald House again. This time in Tucson.

When their daughter Charlotte was a little girl, she was one of those kids who was always sick – bronchitis, whooping cough, pneumonia. Her doctor thought she would grow out of it. When she was 18, a physician assistant in Bullhead City diagnosed two heart murmurs. The PA was concerned, especially when she realized that Charlotte’s resting heart rate was nearly 60% higher than normal.

That cascaded into a diagnosis of ‘inappropriate sinus tachycardia,’ (also known as an abnormally fast heartbeat) and a referral to Dr. Peter Ott, cardiac electrophysiologist at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson.  Dr. Ott performed a few procedures to try to regulate her heartbeat. Then he installed a pacemaker.

Charlotte has endured blood infections, endocarditis, weeks of hospital stays, cardiac rehab. Now she has been diagnosed with nontuberculosis mycobacteria, a disease that mimics tuberculosis but is not contagious. It leaves her very short of breath. The past seven years have been difficult for Charlotte, yet her spirit soars. The family has spent more than 300 nights here.

“Ronald McDonald House is like a second home to us,” Charlotte said. “The people here are so nice.  This is an amazing place to stay. I rave about it to the nurses all the time.”

“You get to meet other families,” said Charlotte’s mom, Merlynn. “They have been a blessing and an encouragement to us, and we try to be a blessing and encouragement to them. We still keep in touch with some of the families we have met here.”

As much as Charlotte likes the Ronald McDonald House, she’s eager to travel someplace she’s never been!

Times are tough for our families, and we understand that they’re hard for you, too.

If you are in a position to help, your donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona provides peace-of-mind for families like the Randalls, reminding them that they will always have a place to stay during follow-up visits.