“When I was 22 weeks pregnant with Skylar, I found out that she had the most serious and severe form of spina bifida. Doctors told us about a new procedure that can be done while still pregnant. A team of specialists perform surgery on the mother to access the baby in the uterus and surgically repair the defect. The closest hospital that offered this type of surgical procedure was in Cincinnati. After a few weeks of driving back and forth to Cincinnati for meetings, testing, scans and discussions, we found out that we were approved for the surgery.

Part of the requirements for choosing to do fetal surgery, was to relocate to Cincinnati until the baby was born and return for follow up appointments with her specialists and research groups. For the few weeks before surgery, I was staying at a hotel, which was really putting a financial strain on our family, not to mention the extra expenses for meals while in Cincinnati. I was starting to worry how I’d be able to afford a hotel for several months. Thankfully, the nurse coordinator had mentioned the Ronald McDonald House in one of our meetings, and I asked more about it when the social worker came to speak with me. After hearing more about it, I called the RMH and spoke with Jonathan. He was wonderful and explained everything and answered all my questions and he directed me to the website to apply for a room. I’m so thankful for the Ronald McDonald House and everything they have provided for me and my family.

I don’t know how I could ever explain every way the House has helped. It gives me and my family a safe place to stay while in Cincinnati for appointments. We get a private room with plenty of space and a private bathroom, all at no cost, which saved us so much money. The staff are so sweet and accommodating, which has also been so helpful! There have been times where I realize I forgot to pack something, and I am relieved when the front desk can get it or get something similar almost every time! Another way the House has helped is being so close to the hospital. After I gave birth to my daughter, she stayed in the NICU at CCH for nearly three months! Every day I would be at her bedside, and I loved that I could just walk right next door and be back in my room to get some rest. I also walked back to the House to get food, which was also extremely helpful.

The Ronald McDonald House has such wonderful chefs and volunteers that provide two meals a day for guests at no cost, which I cannot express my gratitude enough for that, too! When my new baby was in the NICU going through such a challenging time, I was stressed! I felt like I needed to be there for her all day, and probably would not have eaten at all if it hadn’t been for RMH. Most days I would leave the hospital to grab lunch and dinner at their designated times, which I could either eat at the House or take it with me to the hospital. But if I missed mealtime for some reason, it was so nice to know I could always get some leftover food from the fridge or snacks from the snack shelf.

The House provides water bottles and coffee for free. I know it probably seems like such a small thing, but having access to bottled water for free has been so amazing! Another helpful thing the House has is a washer and dryer to do laundry. When I stayed in the House for four months, it was so nice to be able to walk across the hall and have a place to do my laundry. They even provide the laundry detergent and dryer sheets. Again, I could go on and on forever about all the ways the Ronald McDonald House has helped me and my family. They seriously think of everything and have fun playrooms, a gym, an art room an outdoor playground and they even host special events and activities for guests that help make life seem a bit more normal and fun in the midst of appointments, doctors, hospital, exciting news, disappointing news, scans, tests, surgeries and overall chaos.

I want donors to know just how much their donations are truly appreciated! These donations really do put a smile on the face of families staying at the House. For those donating money to help the House, know that every penny is going toward helping the House operate fully.

To those donating items, you have no idea how your donation likely made someone’s day. I specifically remember when Girl Scout cookies were donated. The NICU life had been such a roller coaster ride, and getting my favorite Girl Scout cookies to bring to the hospital with me was such an unexpected treat!

To those who donate toys, I wish you could see the smiles they create! I have watched children pick their toy from the toy closet, and their face is pure joy! My kids have also been able to visit the toy closet and I love seeing their faces light up when they get their toy.

I know there are so many ways in which people donate to RMH, but all this is to say that no matter which way a person donates, I hope they understand the burden it lifts, the joy it promotes, the anxiety it eases, the peace of mind it provides, the smiles it generates and the impact it has on every single guest that stays at the Ronald McDonald House.” – Nikki, Skylar’s mom

As Nikki mentioned, it would be impossible to put into words just how much your gift matters and the difference it makes. On behalf of Nikki, Skylar and all our guest families, thank you for supporting our House.