Treasured Smiles

McKennaThe late Fred Rogers once said, "Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me." I couldn't agree more. When my daughter, McKenna was about a year old, she battled through her first bout of pneumonia. At age two, she struggled through her second case of pneumonia. At age three; she was diagnosed with asthma and severe allergies.

She was in and out of the emergency room several times that year. Age four brought another season of pneumonia, and another round of hospitalizations. Each year of life involved more illness, more doctors, and more hospital "vacations," as we began to call them. Each year was different, but a few things remained the same. There were always the same sleepless nights, interrupted with blood draws and breathing treatments. There were always alarms that would sound and bring a flood of nurses into the room as her oxygen saturation would drop.

There were always frustrating conversations as people would insist that I "go home" and "get some rest," without understanding that I would never, under any circumstance, leave my "baby" there alone. And there were always the "angels" from Ronald McDonald House Charities that would bring what would often turn out to be my only meal of the day. My husband worked a full time job, and cared for our other four (now five!) children at home.

McKenna was often too weak to have anyone who could possibly be contagious around, so often, I was isolated at the hospital for days or weeks at a time. The volunteers in the Ronald McDonald House Charities Lunch Is On Us program arrived every day, bearing a smile (wow, do I treasure those smiles!) and a sack lunch, often delivered in a decorated brown bag. I always appreciated the lunch, because it gave me the required physical nourishment to keep moving, but the bigger blessing was that I was able to stay with my daughter when she needed me most.

Today, McKenna is a happy, healthy 12-year-old, with little memory of those annual hospital trips. She does, however, remember those brown sack lunches, and we are both proud and honored to be able to serve as volunteers for the annual food drive at the Ronald McDonald House. The volunteers at Ronald McDonald House Charities clearly have done a lot to help my child, and that certainly makes them heroes to me. Please accept my deepest thanks and gratitude for being such a blessing for my family.