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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Helping families heal

Sunday, February 10, 2008

SPRINGFIELD -- One local family knows all to well what it is like to have a sick baby in need of experienced medical care and no where to stay.

That's the situation Josh and April McDaniel of Thayer found themselves in after the birth of their daughter, Skyler.

Skyler was born Jan. 17, 2007, at Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains.

Her mother said she was given a clean bill of health and the young couple were told they would be able to take her home the next day.

"It wasn't until she was taken back to the nursery for a check-up that they realized something was wrong," April said.

That's when the medical staff at OMC discovered her oxygen level was at 52 percent.

"They told us a normal baby's oxygen level should be in the upper 90s," April said.

Skyler had a partially collapsed lung and air had gotten on the outside of her lung compressing it.

"The Baby Buggy is a special ambulance from Cox South hospital in Springfield, two hours away. They were called to pick up Skyler and my husband and I followed in our car," she said.

April said when her and Josh got to Springfield they were scared, alone and had nowhere to stay.

"We refused to stay anywhere that didn't allow us to be at Skyler's side in a moments' notice," she said.

That's when the staff of the Ronald McDonald House stepped in.

"The Ronald McDonald House in Springfield is located next to the hospital. They offered us a room, and so much more with their kindness, support, and understanding," she said.

The McDaniels said there were other families at the Ronald McDonald House who were in the same situation they were. "We were were able to sit and talk and share our feelings and fears," April said.

Both Josh and April said they would never be able to thank the staff at the Ronald McDonald House enough for what they did for them.

"They are special people and will always be in our heart," April said.

Today Skyler is a healthy baby girl, growing and learning something new every day.

Her mother said she still has a few minor health problems but the doctors are confident she will out grow them in time. She celebrated her first birthday two weeks ago.

The Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in March, 1988. Since that time, over 6,600 families, including the McDaniels, have found a temporary home at the Ronald Mcdonald House while their children were in the hospital.

Starting Jan. 25 and continuing until Valentine's Day, 59 McDonald's restaurants, including Thayer McDonald's and 35 Great Southern banks in the area, will begin their annual Share a Heart campaign.

Local McDonald's manager Shirley Hollis said restaurant patrons will be able to purchase a paper heart for $1. The person who purchased the heart will autograph it and it will be stuck on the windows of the restaurant and will remain there through valentine's Day.

Thayer Mayor Merle Williams has proclaimed Feb. 4-10 as Ronald McDonald week in Thayer.

Since 1988 96 families from Oregon County have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield. Thirty of those families were from Thayer.

Last year alone, six families from Oregon County used the Ronald McDonald house facilities for a total of 149 nights.

In Arkansas, 49 Fulton County families have used the services of the Ronald McDonald House since 1988.

A spokesperson from the house said an average stay for a family was 12 days in 2007.

Volunteers staff the Ronald McDonald House for 12 hour days, 365 days a year.

Some of the programs available to families include a family dinner nearly every night. There is also a family fund for emergency expenses, parenting help skills, pagers, help with transportation and a community directory.

The mission of the houses is to provide lodging, hope, comfort and emotional support during one of the most difficult and painful experiences a family may ever face. The McDaniels said the Ronald McDonald House did all these things and many more.

The Share a Heart campaign is expected to provide 10 percent of the funds needed to operate the house, which requires $450,000 annually to keep the doors open. All of this on-going need is provided by the private sector through donations. Hollis encourages everyone to stop by and support their important campaign.

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