CORNER BROOK — Families in the Corner Brook area are already recognizing Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s as the home away from home that it is intended to be.
A few of those families were out to support the cause at the second annual Red Shoe Crew — Walk for Families in Corner Brook Saturday.
The devastation, frustration, and financial burden are just some of the unfortunate horrors which face families when a child becomes ill. Emergency cases often find parents uprooted from their jobs, travelling across the island at a moment’s notice, bags feverishly packed, other children pulled from school and carried along, and life as they knew it was suddenly turned upside down.
Now, there is at least one constant that can be relied upon. There is a place families can stay, at a low cost and complete with endless supports to help them during their time of turmoil. With so many worries coinciding with such an event, having the Ronald McDonald House and its services available, families are able to put more focus into caring for their sick child.
Penny Burke learned what an asset this house is in May. Her daughter Holly had an obstruction of the bowel in May, and their stay at the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s lasted about four weeks.
With no family in St. John’s to turn the Burke’s were immediately faced with significant costs of accommodations — something they faced the year before during another emergency. This time though, they didn’t need a hostel where all that burden fell to them. The Ronald McDonald House was a God send for them, said Burke.
“It wasn’t such a financial burden,” she said. “And our son (Graham) had a home away from home. He would connect with his class online, so he could see them every day. It was perfect.”
Dara Walsh has a similar story to tell, and equal gratification for the service that was provided to her family. Her daughter Charlotte Freake suffered a severe asthma attack, and was flown to the Janeway for treatment.
Walsh was always of the assumption Ronald McDonald House was for families of more severe cases of sick children such as cancer. She said it turned into such a positive experience for them.
“I would do anything for them,” she said, at Margaret Bowater Park while preparing to go on the walk. “It was the best part of our experience out there. It turned a bad thing into a good thing.”
Steven Kendell and his family also showed up for the walk Saturday. He and a number of friends added some enthusiasm to the event. The junior high student who stayed at Ronald McDonald House while being treated for a brain tumour far surpassed his fundraising goal, bringing in about $1,400.