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.

Meet the Murphy Family

A smooth pregnancy is what all new moms and dads hope will happen. What gets scary is20161017_114913 when the pregnancy goes just as it should and then one day, turmoil strikes. Terry and Brittany Murphy had an easy going pregnancy and then 25 weeks in, Brittany was in labor for 12 hours without knowing it. Their daughter, Bralynn, was born early weighing only 1 lb. 10 oz. They were scared, shocked and did not quite know where to turn for rest until they were introduced to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.

The next few months felt like a waiting game. Seven weeks in, Bralynn was breathing on her own. After checking in the House and Bralynn seemed to be improving, their outcome was finally looking hopeful.

“I don’t know what we would’ve done without the Ronald McDonald House,” Terry said.

“It’s so nice to have a community of people in the same situation at the House. We can talk amongst each other which helps emotionally.”

Now, Bralynn is breathing well, transitioning into bottle feeding and expected to keep progressing.

The Massengale Family

FamilyPhotoWith several unsuccessful pregnancies to leave Kara Massengale and her husband, Brent, heartbroken, it was only natural for them to be fearful when they found out they were pregnant once again. At just 17 weeks pregnant, things didn’t seem hopeful. That didn’t stop them from believing their son, Brooks, would survive.
At nearly eight weeks early, Brooks beat the odds with the exception of a brain bleed. Two
weeks after his birth, he was stable and it was only a matter of time before he grew big enough to be discharged from the hospital.

The doctors estimated Brooks’ NICU stay to be two-months-long. With the estimated stay, the thought of driving back and forth from Dayton, Tennessee multiple times a day seemed like another daunting stressor added to the equation. Then, Kara and Brent found hope in the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House®.

“It’s so nice to have a reliable place to stay and an opportunity to meet other families,” BabyBrooksKara said.

“We’re able to see our son more. I would be sleeping in the NICU if [the Ronald McDonald House] was not here.”

The Massengales have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for over 47 nights and found rest, comfort and community in the House with mothers’ and fathers’ also going through difficult times.

The McAnly Family

DSCN6860Laura and her husband, Michael, from Hillsboro, Tennessee recently stayed at the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House for a second time during May and June. Their beautiful newborn triplets, Benjamin, Thaddeus and Nathanael came into the world eight weeks early. Although, this wasn’t their first stay.

The first time they stayed at the House was in August of 2014 when their newborn daughter, Annabelle, had a stroke and uncontrolled seizures. She ended up staying in the intensive care unit and was later well enough to go home that September. Little did Laura and Michael know, they would be back again nearly two years later.

When their triplets were born early, they checked in to the House. This time, Annabelle was by her parent’s side and got to stay close to her three new little brothers!

“I really liked to interact with other residents. It was an opportunity to be really encouraged,” said Laura. Both stays were an equally good experience for them during their trying times. They will never take the home cooked meals and private bedrooms for granted. After a 20 night stay, a family that was once a family of three went home as a family of six.

Meet the Stephens Family

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Randy and Beth Stephens of Cleveland, Tennessee have three children, John, Will and Kate who anticipated meeting their newborn sister Annie on Dec. 21. Between finding out Annie suffered from dandy-walker syndrome, a human brain malformation, and seizures in the hospital which caused Annie to also have hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain, it was uncertain on when Annie’s siblings could meet their newborn sister.

On Dec. 28, Randy and Beth found refuge in the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House. “This place just highlights all the good in the world,” said Randy Stephens. They considered the House to be an “absolute blessing,” as Beth described it. When they found refuge, they started to find hope.

On Christmas Eve, Annie had a shunt put in to help with her hydrocephalus.

After being separated while their parents tended to their baby sister, John, Will and Kate were finally able to stay with them at the Ronald McDonald House. “My little girl would cry at night because we had to be separated.” Because they were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, they could all be together and not miss memories.

Other than being able to stay close to Annie and have the rest of the family stay with them from time to time, Beth appreciated being able to meet others at the House who were also experiencing hardship, “I love the sense of community and meeting other people.”

IMG_1046After days of constant prayer, surgery and care, Annie was discharged from the NICU. Randy and Beth checked out of the Ronald McDonald House on Jan. 18. 

For 21 days they found rejuvenation in the “House that Love built.” “It made all the difference in the world,” Randy said.

Today Annie has a bright future. Her brothers and sisters immersed her with love and were ecstatic when she came home for the first time. “My 7-year-old waved us in. I’ve never seen his face light up so much.”

Our 25th Annual Autumn Children’s Festival Guide for Moms’ and Dads’…

…including minutes each activity will keep your child occupied and how much energy they’ll use.

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Days & times: Oct. 4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. & Oct. 5, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Location: Tennessee Riverpark
4301 Amnicola Hwy, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Admission: Free!
Parking: Free!

Activities (not all are listed):
* There will be a plethora of activities for cute photo ops to enter your child into for the Photo Contest!

Pumpkin decorating
Minutes: 10 to 15.
Energy used: Not much. Although, better to decorate a pumpkin then your kitchen walls.

Face painting
Minutes: Depends. If he/she is more of a minimalist and only wants a balloon, 8 minutes. If your child is a Michelangelo at heart, it could be 15-20.
Energy used: More like energy gained. There’s nothing better than seeing a child’s face light up when they look in the mirror and see the creative art.

Petting zoo/pony rides
Minutes: 10 to 15 minute rounds.
Energy used: Moderate. Petting animals, feeding, and riding them will cause your child’s heart to melt.

Giant inflatables/bounce house
Minutes: As long as you please.
Energy used: They will most likely make your child fall asleep in the car ride home.

Sandbox
Minutes: 10 minute rounds.
Energy used: A good amount if your child is striving to be an archeologist.

Ronald McDonald Magic Show
Minutes: 30.
Energy used: Some. Ronald often gets little magicians from the audience to be his helper!

Carnival games
Minutes: This is up to you.
Energy used: Moderate. If their eye is on the prize, they’re really going to give it everything they have to win.

Mobile Rolling Video Game Theater
Minutes: 15
Energy used: Little.

Food:
Hungry Hollow Concessions
Jalapeño Corn Dog
Kona Ice
Local Slice
Monkey Town Donut Co.
Mtn.Top Kettle Corn
Rita’s Italian Ice
Tikiz Shaved Ice
Mayfield ice cream samples on Saturday and Sunday!

We’re so thrilled for you to enjoy the annual Autumn Children’s Festival (ACF) and celebrate 25 years of family fun!  We would like to thank our long-standing partnership with the Tennessee Society of CPA’s Chattanooga Chapter who volunteer their time to plan, underwrite, set up, and coordinate all the ACF activities.

The Festival wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of volunteers, gracious donors, sponsors, and all who come to participate in the fun!

Tennessee Society of CPA’s
Ross Glass & Aluminum
M&M Industries, Inc.
Village Volkswagen of Chattanooga 
Convergys 
Sunny 92.3
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee 
David & Barbara Carroll
Allstate (Homer Tittle) 
Coca-Cola
SunTrust
WTVC-News Channel 9 
McDonald’s 

 

Incredible Kids Who Blow out Their Candles and Make a Donation

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Kids across the world look forward to one day a year that’s dedicated to celebrating themselves: birthdays! Birthdays are fabulous; presents, cake, friends and family celebrating solely YOU. Well, we know some pretty encouraging kids that turned their special day from focusing on themselves to focusing on others:

1.) Julia Kilgore

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In lieu of presents for her 9th birthday, Julia asked for donations to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga. She raised $540! Along with the monetary donation, the Kilgore family also donated WebKinz stuffed animals.

2.) Caden Walling

ImageInstead of presents for his 8th birthday, Caden raised $50 to donate to RMHC of Chattanooga. He said, “I just wanted to help other people.”

3.) Ava & Olivia Scotchie

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Ava and Olivia Scotchie are a double team when it comes to helping families. For the past three years, they’ve asked their friends to make donations to RMHC of Chattanooga instead of gifts. They’ve raised a total of $1,193!

We hope these kids have inspired you to pay it forward as well. If you share… it becomes contagious too! Pass it on and help families at Ronald McDonald House today.