Louise Holland: Autumn Children’s Festival Volunteer Extraordinaire

The Ronald McDonald House Charities 28th annual Autumn Children’s Festival is coming


Holland volunteering at the entrance check-in at the Autumn Children’s Festival

up Oct. 7 and 8 at the Tennessee Riverpark with lots of excitement for the carnival games, pony rides, inflatables and much more. It’s by far one of the greatest times of the year because it is not only a fundraiser to help support the Ronald McDonald House families, but it is also a way for the House to give back to the community.

While the Autumn Children’s Festival is great fun for the community, none of it is possible without the amazing volunteers that come out and serve each year. The charity sees volunteers of all ages and walks of life take time out of their busy schedule to help achieve the mission to help keep families close to their sick children in the hospital.

One volunteer in particular, Louise Holland, worked as an Autumn Children’s Festival greeter last year and brought so much joy to those who attended. Holland’s favorite part of volunteering was, “watching the excitement on all of the faces of the children running around the festival…”

Being a greeter at the Autumn Children’s Festival shows Holland that family’s value time with one another as they have the chance to unwind, make memories and just be with one another.


Large crowds at last year’s Festival

What she enjoyed most from last year’s Festival was being able to experience it with her grandchildren. Volunteer time is broken up into shifts which allow volunteers to enjoy the festival. Holland commented that her grand kids had the “time of their lives;” they loved getting their hair sprayed, faces painted and taking pony rides. It is a joy to have volunteers like Louise Holland committed to volunteering at the Autumn Children’s Festival.

We greatly appreciate our volunteers—and our families appreciate it even more.

We have plenty of different ways you can volunteer at the Festival. If you are interested in helping volunteer this year, please contact Sarah Griffith at sarah.griffith@rmhchattanooga.com or visit our website.


Meet the Crenshaw Family

With Andre being the Tennessee Tech football coach and Ashley being a nurse, these AugustFronttwo know how important it is to be a caring team during hard times. Their son Kalin was born at 34 weeks weighing just over 3 lbs. As Kalin gained weight, Andre and Ashley of Cookeville, Tennessee were feeling hopeful.

Unexpectedly, Kalin was struggling with eating and needed a feeding tube. This meant that

Kalin would spend a good amount of time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Luckily, the new parents were able to check in to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.

During this process, not only were Andre and Ashley able to stay at the “House that Love Built,” but so was Andre’s mom Nancy who flew in from California. Ashley’s mom, Mary and sister Kayley were also able to stay close by and be supportive.

“It’s so nice to have family around and be able to grab food in the kitchen. We’re so close to the hospital instead of traveling over an hour away to and from each day,” Ashley said.

After just a few weeks, Kalin weighed 4 lbs. 3 oz. and was able to return home with their newest little teammate shortly after. Andre and Ashley stayed a total of 14 nights.

Meet the Maldonado Family

“I want a big piece of chocolate cake!” said soon-to-be 4-year-old Cezar.

His dad David piled a slice high with whipped cream in the Ronald McDonald House JulyFrontkitchen. Cezar’s face glowed with joy over his dessert while his mom Rebecca proceeded to share his journey with a rare sub-type of leukemia that only three percent of kids get.

With this being their second stay, they were grateful to be able to stay at the House again as Cezar only had to travel across the street for chemotherapy three hours a day. For Cezar, a little fever is a big deal. It was important for him to have easy access to the hospital.

“Being close to the hospital is a big deal for us. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to stay,” David said.

Cezar and his family prefer a warm cozy bed at the Ronald McDonald House rather than staying in the hospital hooked up to an IV pole.

“He likes it here much better!”

Currently, Cezar is doing well in remission and is taking it day by day.

Meet the Shofner Family

A twelve hour road trip took a turn for the worst in the final hour of traveling home for Jennifer and her four daughters Isabella (12), Lauren (10), Haley Jo (5) and Presley (2). They experienced a head on collision with a driver in a high speed chase who crashed into Jennifer’s car. All five were life-flighted to Erlanger Hospital and her husband Chris was notified immediately.

Jennifer faced broken ribs, a fractured tailbone and a broken foot; she was able to be the img_1076.jpgfirst one discharged from the hospital. The oldest, Isabella, had a lacerated liver and spleen as well as severe stomach contusions. Lauren had a broken pelvis while Haley Jo had a broken femur plate, stomach contusions and abdomen lacerations.  They have been discharged but the youngest, Presley, still remains in the PICU. She had two severe abdomen lacerations, 36 stitches, three torn ligaments and a halo implant.

The amount of pain the family has faced is overwhelming, but their high spirits and community support is strong. To add, Jennifer’s husband Chris has been able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House to support his family during this terrible tragedy.

“The amount of care at the Ronald McDonald House has been amazing. I don’t know what we would’ve done without it,” Chris said.

“We’re very thankful for the Ronald McDonald House and appreciate being able to be at home here.”

Once Presley is discharged, she will be able to start rehabilitation treatments. Her family and friends are eager to be with her at home again. In the meantime, we’re thrilled they’re able to stay close to their youngest.

Meet the Charles Family

Isn’t it funny when moments in your life come full circle? When Sara Davis was 16-years-old, she was the winner of a McDonald’s  contest where her drive-thru logo was chosen to be the official McDonald’s drive-thru logo in 1996. d25cebad7c2854e328b0de2140f90bb4

She worked for McDonald’s for three years and was adamant about asking customers to donate their spare change to the Ronald McDonald House.  Little did she know, she’d be using the House years later for her second child.

Fast forward to 2017, Sara and partner, John, were eagerly expecting their child, Axsel, to come into the world. It turns out that Axsel was even more eager, making his appearance six weeks early.

Axsel had to have surgery because his lower intestines were twisted tResized95IMG95201704169509595895234ogether. Being an hour away from their Calhoun home, they were able to check in to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.

Relieved they had somewhere to stay close by, they were able to check on Axsel frequently and not have to worry about driving back and forth or sleeping in the hospital waiting room.

“I didn’t know how important the Ronald McDonald House was. Behind on the receiving side, it is so nice to know where the money goes and such a humbling experience. I had no idea how important it was when I was a teenager,” said Sara.

“We would stay in the NICU for 16 hours a day just trying to bond with our child. We would’ve slept in the waiting room if it weren’t for the Ronald McDonald House.”

Sarah and John were not only able to bond with their newborn, but also bonded with four different families that were staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

“We even had a cookout and an Easter egg hunt with our new friends.”

Axsel’s surgery was successful and after 18 nights of staying at the Ronald McDonald House, they were able to travel back home the day their son turned three weeks old.

Meet the Montero Diaz Family

When parents stay at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House, it’s because they have a sick or injured child in the hospital. For Emilia and her husband, Marlon, their stay is for quite a different reason.

Their son, Diego, is very eager to be born. At just 22 weeks pregnant, Emilia was having contractions every three minutes. Since Emilia has a AprilFronthigh-risk pregnancy, doctors want Emilia to be close to Erlanger hospital in case she goes into early labor. Luckily, Emilia’s mother, Flor, was able to fly in from Venezuela and be close to her daughter and son-in-law and stay at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House with Emilia while Marlon is at work.

Since Ronald McDonald House Charities is international and Emilia and Marlon are originally from Venezuela, they had heard about the charity before but didn’t quite know what it entailed.

“Because of the Ronald McDonald House, I don’t have to worry about anything except for keeping the baby safe. We don’t have to worry about paying for a hotel and most importantly, we are close to the hospital.” – Emilia, mom.

To date, Emilia is still pregnant and due in August. Emilia, Marlon and Flor are very excited to welcome their first child into the Montero Diaz family.

Meet the Rodriguez Family

The main focus of the Ronald McDonald House is to keep families close to their sick 2017-2-27-3.jpgchildren. We were able to keep Valerie and Alan Rodriguez close to their children not once, but twice.

The first case was in 2014 when their son, AJ, was born with gastroschisis, a condition where the baby’s intestines protrude outside of the baby’s body. It’s very rare, but even rarer for it to happen to another sibling. The second time happened most recently when their daughter, Brylee was born.

AJ and Brylee both had to have multiple surgeries. There was more hope with Brylee, because they had been through it before with AJ and could stay at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House again.

“Both times we’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House we were scared and thankful. We were uncertain about what would happen to our children. We were able to be right across the street just two minutes away instead of being an hour away,” Valerie said.

“It’s so nice to have the ability to stay together as a family. Otherwise, we would have to choose between our kids.”

After both children had multiple surgeries, they were able to leave the hospital and Ronald McDonald House.  You would not even know either child had complications.

“We were able to stay together as a family and that’s all that matters.”

The Rodriguez family stayed at the House for 21 nights and is doing great as a happy family of four.