Located in Springfield, Mo., the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks has served the needs of 108 Oregon County families, 34 of which are Thayer residents. An area family will be profiled in a display at the local McDonald's restaurant which is owned by Norma Hilburn.
The family of Maddox Taylor of Alton knows just how important this house is. Maddox's mother relates her experience.
"I had a difficult pregnancy with my son Maddox. I suffered from pre-clampsia that was so severe, my son's and my life were both at risk. To eliminate the risk, the doctors delivered Maddox early on Dec. 7, 2009. He was born weighing only 3 pounds, 7 ounces and was 17-1/2 inches long. He was immediately taken to the St. John's NICU and stayed there until Jan. 6 when we got to take him home to meet his big sister. He now weighs 5 pounds, 10 ounces and is still growing and doing great.
"My family and I lived 2 hours away from the hospital when Maddox was born. Without the Ronald McDonald House, we would have had to spend the entire holiday season and first month of our baby's life traveling and not spending much time with him. Because of the Ronald McDonald House, we got to be with Maddox everyday and cheer him along as he grew. Everyone at the Ronald House was so kind and generous. We don't know what we would have done without them."
Jonathan Batcheller's family of Thayer, also know how important this house is.
"After Jonathan's severe auto accident in May 2008, he was in a coma for 15 days and the doctor's gave him a 25 percent survival rate and a 95 percent chance of being a vegetable if he did survive. However, Jonathan has always been a fighter. He went through three weeks of patient therapy and three additional months of outpatient therapy to help with his recovery.
"Even after his rehab, Jonathan struggled to get the strength he had before his accident. After months of hard work, slowly but surely, Jonathan gained weight and strength steadily. He started attending Missouri Valley College in January 2009 and even received a baseball scholarship for the fall of 2009 after coaches saw him play in a summer league.
"Jonathan has worked extremely hard to overcome the obstacles of his accident and his mother jokes that he makes better grades now than he did before the accident and is in the best physical shape of his life. He continues to work each day to prove to himself that you can overcome anything. The Batchellor family still routinely visits the Ronald McDonald House and staff that they grew so close to during their time there."
The cornerstone program of Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks provides a home away from home for families of seriously ill and injured children who must travel far from home from medical treatment. Located in Springfield, Mo., the house has welcomed over 7,200 families since opening in March of 1988, providing lodging, hope and comfort during a time of unspeakable hardship. Other amenities include home cooked meals through the organization's Family Dinner Program, laundry facilities, transportation to hospitals and support from volunteers and staff who truly care. The most needed and appreciated benefit of all is shared between families, giving each other encouragement and sharing their true understanding of having an ill or injured child.
Planning continues for a new Ronald McDonald House to be built within the new state-of-the-art 150,000-square-foot women's and children's unit on the 5th and 6th floors of St. John's Hospital in Springfield. The new house will be located on the 6th floor, next to a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. The Ronald McDonald House will help families of sick children and high-risk maternity patients with both overnight stays in its 10 bedrooms, or with daytime visits. Daytime use of the house will help Springfield families and others not requiring an overnight stay, but benefiting from the comfort and sharing that are the hallmarks of the program. The St. John's Ronald McDonald House is expected to open in 2011.
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 $550,000 annually to operate. One-hundred percent of this on-going need is provided through donations from the private sector.
The community is urged to stop by Thayer's McDonald's before Feb. 14 to make a donation to this campaign.