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We Get by with a Little Help from Our Friends

by Deborah Cruz

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McDonald’s, all opinions of how to help parents get through a child’s health crisis are my own.

Imagine being at the beach on vacation with your family or just spending a fall afternoon on a family bike ride. If you really think about it, you can almost feel the warm contentment that comes with being safe, happy and together in those moments with the people you love. There are so many moments in life like these that we take for granted. We all do until something terrible happens and then we don’t.

Imagine then, as horrible and unthinkable as it may be, that something tragic happens to your child. In that moment, the only thing that you want to focus on is taking care of your baby and making sure they get well. The last thing that should be on your mind is figuring out how to afford it all. RMHC helps alleviate the cost of travel for care and provides support, resources and the comforts of home to families and sick children when they are away from home for medical care.

I’ve seen it happen. The complete fog that takes over when you are thrown headlong into a medical crisis. My nephew Alex was diagnosed with leukemia when he was a toddler and it flipped our entire world upside down. You can’t even imagine how irrelevant everything else in your life becomes. You become micro-focused on the sick child because that is what the heart dictates. The head is overruled and rational thought goes out the window.

It is a moment of such desperation in a family’s history that nothing else matters; even if it should. One crisis at a time. You have to hold it together for your baby. No breaking allowed.

I watched from the peripheral as my brother and his wife went through this. It was a dark time for our entire family but it was the worst moment in my brother and his wife’s life. Their baby was sick and all they could do was pray, be there for him and get the best help they could for him. It was their sole purpose for existence in those days.

Lifesaving treatment is incredibly expensive but it’s not an option. You have to do, you will do, whatever it takes to save your child’s life. The thing is the world goes on, even while yours is falling apart. Bills start coming. You start to drown in them but you can’t focus on that, you have to keep your everything focused on getting your child to the other side of this alive and nothing else matters.

In a perfect world, lifesaving treatments wouldn’t cost so much and parents wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than caring for and being there for their child. But the reality is that life doesn’t stop when our children get sick. RMHC helps families find a way to stay close to their child when they need them the most.

On top of trying to figure out how to be there physically and emotionally for your child, you have to be able to figure out pediatric care, accommodations, and food. Some illnesses necessitate long and repeat stays in the hospital and usually, that’s not at your local hospital. It’s usually the nearest children’s hospital that specializes in treating your child’s illness because that’s the prize; your child’s life.

But hotels, travel, childcare for other children and food all take effort and cost money. It’s hard to try to figure it all out and stay focused on your sick child. While it may seem like an insurmountable challenge to your family, the world goes on. Your child is sick and they need you and that is all that should matter. To the family of a sick child, it’s the worst, most vulnerable moment of their lives but it doesn’t have that same profound effect on the rest of the world. Thankfully, there are places like Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and McDonald’s who do understand.

RMHC helps families stay together through three core programs:

1.RMHC provides comfort, support, and resources for families with sick children just steps away from the hospital.

2. The Ronald McDonald Family Room® provides moms and dads a place to recharge mere steps away from their child’s hospital bedside. It allows them a place where they can eat, shower, rest and recharge so they can be strong for their children.

3. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® brings medical, dental and healthcare resources directly to children near their home or school.

In 2016, alone, RMHC provided 2.4 million overnight stays to families through the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room Programs. That is an amazing gift to the families of sick children at a time when they need it the most.

McDonald’s believes that families are better together, that’s why they support RMHC. Their commitment is to keep families together when a child needs medical care and that is why from 11/7-11/19, you can donate $1, $3 or $5 at the register or at the drive-thru at your local McDonald’s to help RMHC keep families with sick children together when treatment takes them far from home.

A $1, $3 or $5 donation may not seem like much to give, less than a cup of coffee in some cases, but to an RMHC family it means the world. If you like, you can donate today at any McDonald’s. If you can’t afford to donate money but you still want to help, you can support RMHC by sharing the fundraiser with friends and family or volunteering at your local RMHC. Either way, we can all do something to help.

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