This is the 14th year for the Share a Heart Campaign. With every dollar donated, the contributor will autograph a heart that will be displayed at McDonald's through Valentine's Day.
The Share a Heart Campaign is expected to provide over 10 percent of the funds necessary to operate the Ronald McDonald House, which requires in excess of $400,000 annually to operate.
The Ronald McDonald House is located in Springfield and has served the needs of 90 Oregon County families, 26 in Thayer.
The Ronald McDonald House has served as a "home away from home" for the John and Brenda Armstead family of Thayer.
Their son Derek was admitted to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains Dec. 21, 2005, with the diagnosis of pneumonia. Two days later Derek was not getting any better and OMC did not have a pulmonologist so he was taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield.
"We were not sure how long he would be in the hospital. My wife has a sister who lives on the north side of Springfield so we decided to stay with her," John said.
Derek began to get worse and the Armsteads started staying at the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks starting Dec. 26. On Dec. 27 they were told Derek would need to have surgery to help him get over the pneumonia and he was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit.
"Derek had surgery on Dec. 28 and was put on a ventilator for five days. On Jan. 2 he was taken off the ventilator and taken out of intensive care," John said.
He was discharged from the hospital Jan. 5 and the surgeon said he could return to school at Thayer Jan. 26.
Derek has not had any problems since he was in the hospital and just completed his senior season of football this past November. Derek will graduate in May.
"We cannot in words express our thanks to the people who run the Ronald McDonald House, for the many volunteers that donated food, and for the people staying there who treated us like family," John said.
He said the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks is spacious and comfortable, and they make you feel as if you are home when you are there.
The mission of the house is to provide lodging, hope, comfort and emotional support during one of the most difficult experiences a family may ever face, the illness of a child.