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.

Meet the Fraire Lopez Family

When Dulce was pregnant with her third born, Erick, she was not given much hope. She img_3511found out that he was diagnosed with omphalocele, a rare abdominal wall defect in which the intestines, liver and other organs remain outside of the abdomen in a sac, and was told that many do not survive.

Dulce and husband, Hector remained confident that Erick would receive the care he needed to live. Luckily, they were able to stay close to his side by staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

“I didn’t even know about the Ronald McDonald House until the social worker informed me.  Everyone at the Ronald McDonald House is so nice. You get to meet other people also going through hard times,” said Dulce.

While staying at the House, Dulce and Hector felt an overwhelming feeling of relief. She even added: “Staying here has taught me to be patient.”

Erick’s life went from being uncertain to looking like he will be just fine with proper care. Dulce can now hold her sweet newborn and the family can watch him grown bigger and healthier each day.



Meet the Moran Family

When Kristina and Michael’s twin girls, Abigail and Faith, were born four weeks early with


Michael and Kristina holding twins Abigail and Faith with sons Braden (l) and Karsen (r)

respiratory distress, they figured they lived close enough to the hospital to not have to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

After a few days of driving back and forth, their energy was spent and realized how hard it was to be home and away from their girls. They checked in to the Ronald McDonald House and were able to spend more time with their newborns.

“When I checked in to the Ronald McDonald House, I was an emotional wreck. Not from being nervous, but for being incredibly grateful.” – Kristina, mom.

While the girls stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit, Kristina and Michael were able to find rest at the House and balance their time between their twins and two sons, Braden and Karsen.

“The girls were eating every three hours. I felt torn with having two kids at home. Trying to do both was just exhausting and emotionally tolling. It was hard to commute back and forth every day. That’s why the Ronald McDonald House was a huge help. It helped with the girls and also helped with the boys because they could see me every evening. We would eat dinner together.”

During the twins NICU stay, the original thought was that Faith would be discharged sooner, but Abigail and Faith decided they needed to stay together. They both kept having episodes of apnea, a temporary pause of breathing.

On the 13th day in the NICU and Kristina and Michael’s seventh night at the Ronald McDonald House, they were able to take the twins home on heart monitors.

“Truthfully, being close to the girls by being right across the street was the best part of my stay at the Ronald McDonald House; not having to worry about the little life details…”

Today, Abigail and Faith are still on monitors but doing better than ever at home with their proud big brothers and parents.


Meet the Lawrence Family

Parents Heather and Shawn Lawrence checked in to the Ronald McDonald House as dsc_0212returning residents. They stayed here a few years prior when son, Bo, was born early. On Oct. 22, Heather delivered her daughter, Ava, five weeks early. Unfortunately, she had breathing problems and jaundice. They were glad to return to the House, but also worried while trying to stay hopeful their daughter would recover.

“We felt like we were at a second home,” said Shawn Lawrence.

“It was very comforting getting to check in for the second time. It was a huge weight lifted off of our shoulders.”

Big brother Bo was also just as grateful to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. “Bo loves staying here and calls it the ‘McDonald House!’”

Brothers and sisters are always welcome considering the House has a play room and teen lounge offering tons of toys and games like air hockey, basketball throw board games and various other stuffed animals and toys.

After Ava grew healthy enough to return home, they checked out on Halloween after staying at the House for five nights.