Meet the Moran Family

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

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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.

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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.

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.”

The Miracle Child

IMG_5624Ellsie and Jimmy Castro from Cartersville, Georgia were covered in happiness over the birth of their son, Ryan, also known as their “little miracle.” His nickname couldn’t be more fitting looking at the Castro’s past experience with childbirth. Even though Ryan was their fourth pregnancy, he was their first success story. Unfortunately, their other children had passed away during pregnancy. They never lost hope and in return, Ryan is their miracle child. Although, his birth didn’t go smoothly.  IMG_5622

After an emergency caesarean section, Ryan was born 7.5 weeks early on Nov. 23 weighing 3.7 lbs. Ryan was in the NICU for three weeks and hooked up to oxygen for several hours. Ellsie was discharged from the hospital five days later. “I had anxiety being too far from Ryan,” Ellsie says.

Weight released off her shoulders when she checked in to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House. “This place is amazing and welcoming. The ability to stay at the House and so close to Ryan is wonderful.”

After 14 nights, Ellsie and Jimmy returned home safely with their new bundle of joy.

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 

 

Everything You Need To Know About Donation Boxes…

 

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It happens every time you’re at McDonald’s

You see the Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC) Donation Box with loose change in it and a few dollar bills. Maybe you donate your nickels and dimes every time, or maybe you’ve considered it and never took the next step. Unfortunately, there are several reasons why people might hesitate to put a donation in the Donation Boxes. People have certain questions like, “Where does the money really go?” and “Is it really going to make a difference anyways?”

Without further ado, your questions are about to be answered. We want to turn your hesitations into donation celebrations!

Where does the money go?
Since the first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974, you can say we’ve expanded a little (o.k. – a lot!). Today, there are over 300 Houses throughout the United States and world, with local chapters in 52 countries and regions.

Since RMHC is a large non-profit organization, you may think your spare change donation looks microscopic in the scheme of things. False! Did you know that each House is independently operated? Here at RMHC of Greater Chattanooga, the 51 surrounding area McDonald’s Restaurants donate all their Donation Box change to our House! Meaning, the money stays LOCAL. It doesn’t get lost globally and you can know right where your money is going! One full box takes care of one night’s expense for a family who needs our “home away from home” when their child is in the hospital.

Just how powerful is the small change dropped into the Donation Box?
1. If every McDonald’s customer dropped a penny into an RMHC Donation Box every time they visited McDonald’s more than $250 million would be raised to support RMHC children and families around the world.*
2. A full Donation Box could let a family stay together at a Ronald McDonald House for up to one night while their child receives care at a nearby hospital.*
3. A full Donation Box could provide a child with a medical check-up in a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.*
4. Change in the Donation Boxes can give families a place to rest in a Ronald McDonald Family Room, just steps from their child’s hospital bed.*

The RMHC Donation Boxes are RMHC’s largest ongoing fundraisers. It’s from people like you filling the Donation Boxes with quarters, dimes and nickels. Last year alone, more than $50 million was collected worldwide*.

Show your support when you see a Donation Box at a McDonald’s by dropping in your spare change. Spread the word and suggest to your friends and family that they do the same.

*Information found on official global RMHC website