For my sixteen-year-old son Nathan and me, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford truly is our home. For now. Nathan is on the transplant list to receive a new heart and liver, so we have no idea how long we'll be here. Nathan was first admitted to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in December 2014. His Dad, Jim, and I drove 80 miles each way, every day, but in January, I was so fortunate to be offered a room at the House. Knowing I could be there for Nathan has meant the world to our family.
In April, Nathan was discharged from Stanford Children's, but because he still needs to be nearby for treatments and in case donor organs become available, we live in one of the House's suites. Jim visits us on weekends. After more than six months here, I still can't get over how much the House does for families. It is incredible! Almost every day, volunteers prepare meals and staff coordinate fun activities. They offer every convenience and comfort you can imagine, including The Cove, a room for teenagers to hang out, away from parents and younger children. Nathan especially loves the TV and XBOX.
The Cove became even more meaningful in June when Make-A-Wish granted a wish for Nathan. Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area arranged for Nathan's favorite Smosh Games stars, Amra Ricketts (aka Flitz) and Joshua Ovenshire (aka The Jovenshire), to visit him at the Stanford House and play video games with him in The Cove. Nathan really enjoyed getting to know Amra and Joshua and they were touched when he thanked them for always making him smile, even on his toughest days.
Make-A-Wish has been special to our family ever since Nathan's seven-year-old cousin Chloe died several years ago. Since then, our family has raised over $50,000 to grant wishes for other children. For the longest time, Nathan didn't want to request a wish. Supporting Make-A-Wish was rewarding for our whole family, and he didn't want to take away from that. But earlier this year, Nathan was struggling with being at Stanford Children's. Watching videos on the YouTube channel the Smosh Games really helped him cope. After his discharge, Nathan was ready to make a wish. He deliberately chose something special to him, but inexpensive for Make-A-Wish.
We are all so grateful to Make-A-Wish and the stars of the Smosh Games for granting Nathan's wish. And we continue to be amazed at all that RMHC does for us. Every thoughtful detail of Ronald McDonald House at Stanford has helped us cope during this tough time and we will be forever grateful.
“Our situation right now is very stressful, but staying at the House has helped us cope in so many ways. I know Nathan feels like staying here has helped him psychologically because even though this isn't our family home, it is our home for now. It is comfortable, welcoming, and gives him privacy and some degree of normalcy.”
- Alison Madigan
Did You Know That…?
Like the Madigans:
- Caregivers who stay at a Ronald McDonald House report significantly higher levels of involvement in their child’s care and more positive hospital experiences.
- Families attribute their ability to stay together to the Ronald McDonald House program and believe it significantly affects psychological well-being and their child’s recovery.
- RMHC helps improve family coping and resiliency during pediatric hospitalization.