On Saturday families whose children have battled everything from cancer to traumatic accidents gathered for a reunion. They say there's a huge need for the expansion, especially from parents who are struggling to keep up with medical bills while trying to care for their sick children.
For many families, the Ronald McDonald House provides a place of hope during some of their hardest days. Michele Engle and her family checked into the non-profit when their four month old son, Rocco, underwent heart surgery to fix two holes in his heart. Throughout the day, the family rallied near Rocco's bedside and at night, they rested at the house. "They were there for us in the toughest time of our life," said Engle of the non-profit's staff.
The charity asks families to pay $15 a night, but often waives the fee. "Even with insurance, you have some major medical bills. Insurance doesn't cover everything so the bills continued to come," said Engle.
Ana Sanchez's son was airlifted to Children's Hospital after his lungs ruptured. Sanchez said, "I am just so thankful for everything the Ronald McDonald house did for our family. The non-profit plans to construct a new building over the next five years to meet the high demand. "It's needed because of our waiting list which is just so long," said Hannah Johnson.
Johnson says construction will cost about 10 - 12 million dollars. Staff hope the community will step up and help raise funds. "It's our community and it's amazing people who put on events for us and it's these donors that come out of the woodwork and want to help fund our house. It's the McDonalds that have canisters in every single location; and know that when you are putting your change in those, they do stay local, "said Johnson.