Adding the stress of surgery, treatment, and long hospital stays could have really been tumultuous for six year old Rob and his mother Gitte. Their medical journey took them from the Netherlands all the way to Cincinnati, Ohio, more than 4,000 miles from their hometown, as they sought the best hospital and doctors for Rob’s colon surgery. And fortunately for them, the 78-bedroom Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati stepped in, providing a warm, welcoming place to stay, giving Gitte comfort and strength so she could help her son fight through his surgery.
 
"The reason for my stay in Cincinnati's Ronald McDonald House was not much fun of course,” says Gitte.  “But in hindsight it was a unique experience. I will never forget the warmth and kindness I received there.”
 
“I was with Rob in the hospital all day and almost all night. But I couldn’t have done [it] without the House. Every evening I could come back for a home cooked meal, prepared by volunteers. And it wasn’t just food that I shared with other families – we shared stories and experiences and whenever I needed it there was an arm around my shoulder. Everyone was ready to help everyone else; nothing was ever too much. I still get the shivers when I think back to that time. I was alone, but I never felt lonely.”
 
When Rob was able to leave the hospital, he too found a loving, healing environment at the House, helping him to recover. There were all kinds of activities for him to do – playing with other children in the playroom, cuddling with therapy dogs, even watching a performance by Elmo one day – all welcome distractions. 
 
After more than a month in Cincinnati, Gitte and Rob were able to go back home to the Netherlands. Today, Rob is still battling complications from his illness back at home. But Gitte and her family are so thankful for the support and strength that the Ronald McDonald House during a time when they needed it most - for being a home when they were 4,000 miles away from their own.