I try every day – but there aren’t words sometimes. I made a big quilt, patched together with Ryan’s t-shirts and gave it to Summer. In its way, it helps me tell his story – our story – and the love that he shared with us. It’s a tough story. Life came undone for our family about two years ago now. And honestly, we wouldn’t be where we are now, without the Ronald McDonald House.

That day started out like a typical Saturday. We were going to Cincinnati to visit some of our closest friends. When we got into the car to go home, I knew Summer was exhausted, and I bet Ryan that she would fall asleep in her car seat before we were even to the first stop light. We were sitting at that first light and when it turned from red to green, I turned back to see if Summer was asleep. Then I really don’t remember anything for three days.
 
I woke up. I knew there was an accident - a violent one. I learned that Ryan was gone and that our Summer was very hurt – that she was at the children’s hospital, suffering and paralyzed from a broken neck. Life as I knew it was unraveling; I was reeling from physical and emotional pain that was taking over my body. 
 
It didn’t seem like anything that anyone said to me was going to make things better. But the Ronald McDonald House, steps from Summer’s bedside, opened the door for me and my mom. They said, “Hey, we have a bed and food.” Simple words. A simple offer. But exactly what I needed.  
Being able to stay next to Summer, and having my Mom there to do a load of laundry, to heat up dinner for me, to hold my head up, and to give me strength to help Summer fight was huge for me.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides this network of Houses – places for hope and healing when your world is falling apart. They provided stability among utter chaos and made Summer and my recovery period much less difficult. And I know there are millions more children and moms just like me who depend on the cradle of support they receive from RMHC programs. 
 
Right now, Summer and I are doing surprisingly well. My little girl already turned three and she is nearly 100% recovered. Although she will never know her dad, my Ryan, like I do, I will continue telling her how much he loved her – how much she meant to him – how proud he would be of the smart, healthy, beautiful little girl that she has become.
 
Donors like you help put the pieces back together for families like us. Your support is invaluable. Your gift to Ronald McDonald House Charities this holiday season is truly the gift of togetherness. Please make a donation to RMHC today.
 
- Erin Maley