Monday, February 25, 2013

One Year Later

This past weekend marked one year since Harry first got SJS. In some ways it seems hard to believe that it all started that long ago. But looking at him playing and being happy sometimes makes it seem like it's impossible that it even happened at all. Friday was the one year mark of him being hospitalized, followed up the next day by being intubated and transferred to St. Louis. We decided instead of wallowing in unhappy memories, to create new, happy ones. So, rather than recount all the details while reflecting on where we were this time last year, I want to talk about a positive part of the whole experience.

Having a critically ill child is probably one of the most difficult things a family can go through. It is physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Thankfully, Ronald McDonald House is able to help with all of those needs. We have had the opportunity to stay at two different Ronald McDonald Houses: when Jack was born and when Harry was sick. Though the houses were different, the basics were the same. They provide very, very affordable lodging to families with children in hospitals far from home. (Think less than $10 a night!) And, no one is turned away for not being able to pay. In addition to that, every night, a volunteer group comes and cooks a free dinner for the families staying in the house. There are also snacks and other food available for the families at no cost. There is also a free laundry room at each house. In St. Louis, the hospital has a Ronald McDonald House lounge in the hospital. It had showers (way nicer than the ones in the family lounge at the PICU,) snacks, computers, books, and much more to help keep parents comfortable while staying with their sick children. They also had free laundry facilities. Often, the awesome volunteers would switch out the laundry and fold it for the parents. The Ronald McDonald House Charity works hard to meet the most basic needs of families while they are going through one of the worst times they will likely have in their lives.

I think that when people donate to charities, they sometimes wonder if the contribution really helps the people it's supposed to help. You can rest assured that donations to the Ronald McDonald house really are making a difference in the lives of the people they help. If you'd like to make a contribution to this worthy charity, there are many ways you can help. The easiest way is to drop your change in those collection boxes in every McDonald's restaurant. Last year, those boxes collected more than $27 million to help families of sick kids! If you live near a Ronald McDonald House, they could use donations of travel sized toiletries, toys, and food. A more specific list can be found here. You can also get a group together and volunteer to cook dinner one night. There were church groups, co-workers from an insurance office, and just groups of friends wanting to help out that provided meals during our two stays. More information on volunteering can be found here. Doing something small can really add up to help families.

Looking back at the past year, I want to again thank everyone who has prayed for Harry and helped our family in so many ways. We could not have hung in there without you and really appreciate all of you. Thank you!!! Hopefully, this time next year I will be writing about how this is all a distant memory :)


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