On the third day that my 10-year old daughter ran a fever over 102, I experienced that familiar fear that sent me to our pediatrician’s office. I wasn’t panicked, mind you – after all, I’ve been at this mothering job for 18 years in total, and so this wasn’t my first rodeo. But my daughter was also complaining of a sore throat and so the alarm went off in my head (the one that goes “STREP!!”) and off we went to the doctor. (Our calm, wise sage of a pediatrician – who has taken care of all three of my kids since they were born – is one of the main reasons I stopped hitting the panic button whenever the thermometer hit 102 and beyond.) With kids, they do a rapid strep test – a quick swab of the throat with an extra-long Q-tip and then a quick peek under a microscope. I still don’t understand why they don’t this with adults – why they immediately put us on antibiotics and make us wait a couple of days for the test to come back from the lab. Anyway, no strep – just a virus for my daughter and relief for me.
Though I certainly know what it’s like to worry when my kids don’t feel well, that can’t begin to mirror what it must be like to have a child who is seriously ill. Whenever I’ve spoken to a parent in this situation I can honestly say, “I can’t imagine what it must be like.” I’ve come into contact with some mothers who are in exactly this kind of situation and some have become friends. I have learned so much from these beyond-brave women who have reminded me to count my blessings and taught me how, sometimes, you have to make your own.
I ‘met’ Ana few months ago when she reviewed my EasyLunchboxes on her blog. Living 3,000 miles apart, we’ve only communicated via email. She told me the story of her 3 year old daughter Savannah, who was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called Bilary Atresia, and had to wait 8 long months for a liver transplant. We’ve all heard the terrible, sad stories of those on “the waiting list” who pass away before a donor can be found. In this case, there was a very happy ending, but the only way Ana, her husband Robert, and Savannah (whom Ana calls her “Warrior Princess”) made it through the dark days of ‘not knowing’ was due to the care and support they received at Ronald McDonald Houses.
You can read their story and see photos at CotaforSavannahA.com.
The part of the story that really got to me, was Ana’s description of Savannah meeting with another little girl (another “Warrior Princess”, this one with cancer) at the Ronald McDonald House. It made me think of my own children and the excitement and joy they experience when they meet a new friend and run off to play – the Ronald McDonald House gives children the most important thing: the opportunity to be children.
I’ve always heard about Ronald McDonald Houses and had a general idea of what they were all about, but it wasn’t until I heard Ana’s story that I truly came to appreciate what they can offer families undergoing this kind of pain.
The Welcome Wagon
Ana recounts how there is a “Welcome Wagon” at the entrance of the original Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, the first one they stayed at. A child can pick out any toy that he or she wants. To show their gratitude, Ana and her family are currently raising funds to donate an entire “Welcome Wagon” to the Ft. Lauderdale Ronald McDonald House. It will be filled with new toys to bring a smile to many other little “warriors” who walk through the door. As Ana puts it:
“We are a family who wants to pay it forward. We are a family who knows the grief of having a child who is sick and fighting for their lives. We are a family who has been the recipient of the kindness of many nameless and faceless strangers. We are a grateful family.”
A huge reward that comes from running EasyLunchboxes is being able to connect with amazing people who I never would have met otherwise. I know that most bloggers and their readers appreciate the friendships and connections we make online. Our words unite us in our ability to touch or help someone else. That’s why I’ve shared Ana’s story with you. I’m hoping that, like me, you will be inspired by this family’s bravery, and help Ana bring Ft. Lauderdale’s Ronald McDonald House their own Welcome Wagon this December.
Ana blogs over at Florida Frugal Family where she shares great coupon deals with her followers. Ana writes:
“We should be frugal with our money but never with our hearts, our love or our compassion for others. So, when I find the deal and purchase 15 boxes of cereal for pennies on the dollar, the cereal will not only feed our family but much of it will be given to charity to help feed others.”
How to help Ana fill the Welcome Wagon
Ana is looking for new, unused toys in their original packaging for any gender or any age. Much like she does when she finds a great deal on cereal, Ana would be grateful if you could follow her blog Florida Frugal Family , enter her giveaways, and if you win the product, donate it back to the wagon! Sending a “thank you” to the companies that have been kind enough to donate would also be wonderful.
In addition, gift cards to Toys R Us or Party City are gratefully accepted. You can contact Ana at floridafrugalfamily[at] yahoo[dot]com and she’ll let you know where to send your donations.
Follow Ana on her her Welcome Wagon mission at Mami on a McMission.