The Chamber of Commerce is preparing for its Ronald McDonald Wish List Drive set for next Thursday, and members were motivated during Tuesday’s monthly meeting.
“We are a home away from home for families with sick children,” Hal Hedley, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana, told chamber members. Local residents stay in Ronald McDonald houses in Louisville and Lexington.
“We provide a family a place to stay while they go through the toughest time of their lives,” Hedley said. “Whether it be an accident, an illness or cancer, we are there.”
The houses help save families money and helps make things easier during a stressful time.
“We handle the day to day so they can be with their child,” Hedley said. “We have guest rooms, meals and laundry facilities.”
The Ronald McDonald charities serve families regardless of their ability to pay. Only 28 percent of their budget comes from the support of McDonalds, with the remainder coming from community support, whether it be people donating to the Wish List Drive or the 15,000 hours of volunteer time that is given.
The Louisville Ronald McDonald house has a budget of $1.2 million a year.
“It would be a lot more if it wasn’t for the volunteers who come in and people like you guys who support our wish list,” Hedley said.
“It takes a whole community,” Hedley said, “and we are blessed to live in a state that gives back.”
Since January of 2001, the Louisville Ronald McDonald House has served 54 Adair County residents for 400 nights.
“The Ronald McDonald House has saved families $1 million in just what they would spend on hotels,” Hedley said. “That’s not including food and everything else.”
Chamber members got a first-hand look and testimony of one of those families who have been blessed by the Ronald McDonald House.
Beth VanArsdale and her daughter Heather attended the meeting and shared some of the things that have happened in their lives since Heather was in an accident a year ago.
“They told us that Heather would either stay in a coma or remain in a vegetative state,” Beth VanArsdale said.
While at Cardinal Hill Rehab in Lexington, Heather came out of the coma, 45 days after the accident. On March 1, Beth was told Heather could come home, and she could either get one full day of therapy a week or go to therapy at Cardinal Hill and get three full days a week.
“We sat down with them and they told us about the Ronald McDonald House,” Beth said.
Since the second week of March, the VanArsdales have made the Ronald McDonald House in Lexington their second home every Wednesday through Friday.
“It’s really is a home away from home,” Beth said, “They have become a part of our family.”
“They serve us supper every night and we talk to the other families; everyone is there for the same reason,” Beth said. “You can focus on your child and not anything else.”
“We couldn’t afford this if it wasn’t for them,” Beth said. “Heather has made great strides and she fights very hard to get her life back.”
“We thank God every day for her and you guys for your prayers,” Beth continued. “When people donate, they are being involved in people’s child’s recovery,” Beth said. “Heather couldn’t get the treatment she would need if it wasn’t for the Ronald McDonald house.”
By Toni Humphress