The Fritz Family and Baby Mason

Everything was normal. And then it wasn’t. You never know when you’re going to need the Ronald McDonald House yourself.
— Beth Fritz
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Beth Fritz was 38 weeks into her pregnancy, and everything was normal. When Beth started having contractions, her husband, Ty, drove them to their suburban hospital. Beth assumed she would be checked and sent home. But an ultrasound discovered that their unborn son was scoring low on movement, so the doctor ordered an emergency C-section.

Baby Mason was very sick. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood in the uterus, causing severe anemia. He was immediately moved by ambulance to a downtown hospital with a state-of-the-art NICU. Ty went with Mason in his incubator, and Beth followed later. The doctors weren’t sure Mason was going to make it.

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Beth was placed in a tiny room at the hospital, while Ty camped out on an uncomfortable couch. After nearly a week in the hospital, doctors found a bleed on Mason’s brain. They took him off the machine to try to stop the bleeding…and he survived. They were relieved, but both parents were exhausted and missing their two-year-old daughter, Addalyn, who was not allowed to visit her parents and new baby brother in the NICU.

About this time, a social worker suggested that Beth and Ty stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. This made a big difference. “Everyone was so nice. It meant one less meal to buy, one less parking fee,” says Beth. “It was the most normal thing we could have at that time.”

The best part was that Addalyn and her grandparents could also stay at the House, allowing the family to be together for the month Mason stayed in the hospital. Addalyn could have a quiet breakfast with grandma and then play with the toys or on the playground with other kids staying at the House. And when Beth and Ty needed a break from the hospital, they could take the shuttle back to the House, play with Addalyn, take a nap…just be mom and dad.

When you have the kind of support provided by the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, Mason is being helped indirectly. His parents were more comfortable and better rested staying at the House. They could be with Mason’s sister as a family. All of this meant they could take better care of Mason
— Becca Schumm, Beth’s mom
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Today Mason is a happy, thriving baby. The Fritz Family, like so many like them, did everything they could to help Mason. And the Ronald McDonald House was there for them during their time of need.

Without donors, we wouldn’t be able to provide comfort to families when they’re facing scary, life-threatening situations. They ensure that the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is ready and able to help these families during their time of greatest need. 

From Fruit to Families: Paying It Forward

Dr. Beverly far right

Dr. Beverly far right

One Friday afternoon Dr. Laurel Beverly visited the West Side Market to purchase produce. She stopped at a fruit stand and picked out $8 worth of product.

As Beverly reached for her wallet, an enthusiastic woman stopped her because she was going to pay for that fruit. When Beverly protested, the woman insisted. “Great things have been happening to me lately. I want to do something nice for a stranger. I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer!” The woman told Beverly she should just “pay it forward” to someone else.

She then pulled out her Ohio Direction Card and paid for the fruit. “I have just enough on my card to cover this.”

I couldn’t believe it. I could easily afford to pay for my fruit. I just thought, ‘Lady, you have no idea how I’m going to pay it forward.’
— Dr. Laurel Beverly

The next day Dr. Beverly attended her third Wine Women & Shoes to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. She always enjoyed it for the wine tasting, the vendors, the fashion show, and the comradery with amazing women. But this year was special.

After the live auction, the Ronald McDonald House invites attendees to give Gifts from the Heart (a cash donation to support the organization).

When the auctioneer asked who would give a $5,000 gift, I told myself, ‘Well, this is it. It’s my time to pay it forward,’ and I raised my paddle.
— Dr. Beverly

What does $5,000 mean to the Ronald McDonald House? Dr. Beverly’s gift sponsors a room at the House for one year. That means 365 days that a family who cannot afford a $20 a night donation has a safe, secure place to stay while their child is receiving medical treatment.

The Ronald McDonald House is grateful to Dr. Beverly and the kind stranger at the West Side Market for their generosity. Would you like to give families a place to stay all year? Sponsor a room at the Ronald McDonald House.

Wrapped with Love

People tend to gravitate toward those who display an unwavering sense of optimism and hope in times of difficulty and uncertainty. These characteristic of hope and optimism perfectly describe Sidney Taylor, who meets each day with a smile and positive attitude. It’s why, despite her various medical conditions, people find themselves pulled to her story and find courage in her journey.

Sidney and her mother Tonya first came to Cleveland from their home in West Virginia after Sidney started coughing blood from her lungs. Sidney and her family visited several hospitals for treatment but was referred to a pulmonologist in Cleveland.  After arriving in Cleveland, Sidney began to have gastrointestinal problems, leading her to seek additional treatment from gastroenterologists. Needing a place to stay due to the prolonged nature of Sidney’s rare condition and treatment for Vascular Ehler’s Danlos, her family reached out to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. The House had a room available and welcomed Sidney and her family with open arms.

Since staying at the Ronald McDonald House, Sidney has formed friendships with many of the other families, volunteers, and staff at the House. She has become best friends with Badour, a girl from Kuwait, who she looks forward to seeing each time she comes back to Cleveland. Sidney and her mom have also found friendship in fellow House guests Alyssa, Rob, and their daughter Katie. Ronald McDonald House security guards, Dwight and Stacey, not only keep the House safe, but Sidney enjoys seeking their advice when times get especially tough.

To me the Ronald McDonald House is a House of love. It’s a House that helps support you when you and your family are having hard times while our children are in the hospital.
— Sidney Taylor

During her visits, Sidney and her family have been able to meet people from all over the world and have gotten to experience their culture and language in the process. Badour, who speaks Arabic, has taught Sidney basic communication skills so that she can speak to other guests in Arabic. What makes the House a home? Interactions and relationships with families from different backgrounds who are experiencing similar circumstances and lending their support. “The House is a melting pot mixed with people from all over the world travel to Cleveland with their children who are in need of medical attention," says Sidney.

While staying at the House earlier this year, Sidney was surprised with Fuji, an 80 lb. Akita service dog who looks after her and is trained to detect seizures, open doors, and fetch water. Fuji and Sidney have become fast friends, rarely leaving each other’s side. More recently Sidney and the House were the beneficiary of a large donation of Disney themed Duck Tape. Sidney, who requires an IV pole for tube feeding, fluid bags, and TPN bags, was looking for a unique way to decorate her pole and make it more fun. Noticing the many of the rolls, Sidney jumped at the opportunity to decorate her pole with one of her favorite characters.

Every few months I like to pick out new Duck Tape for my IV pole. House manager Molly saw my IV pole and told me that RMH had received a donation of Mickey Mouse Duck Tape and asked if I wanted some to wrap my pole. I now have a Mickey Mouse IV pole that I love very much, so a huge thank you to ShurTech for the donation!
— Sidney

Toni Makes the Runway Shine

Toni Hadad takes her boutique of unique and elegant fashions on the road to downtown Cleveland for Wine Women & Shoes on Saturday, October 14, at the Renaissance Cleveland. For attendees who haven’t been to Toni in Style, the Chagrin Falls clothing store, they are in for a real treat.

This is Toni’s third year organizing the fashion show for the event. She promises to bring clothing from tailor to trendy, daytime to evening dresses, and beautiful evening clothes. Each year’s theme is a kept secret until the big reveal. Year one was a masquerade ball. Year two was a salute to the star spangled banner. What will 2017 bring?!

I really enjoy doing this show. I feel a connection with the audience. I love the reaction of the customers’ faces when they see the models. It’s such a fun atmosphere.
— Toni Hadad

Toni will have fashions available for purchase at the event. They will include clothing that appeals to women across the generations. “Customers like the uniqueness of the pieces,” says Hadad. “When they come to the shop, customers get a personal shopper if they so choose. The clothes speak for themselves…from elegant to pure fun!”

Toni says the trends for this fall are red, new shades of green and blue, plaids, suede, and “velvet, velvet, velvet!” She particularly excited for a reversible vest that can be worn five different ways. She says it’s “$56 of wonderful.”

Toni makes sure that her clients get to enjoy the show, a way for them to see the store on the runway. She says they always really enjoy themselves because the event is so well orchestrated, and it’s for a good cause.

Wine Women & Shoes gives me the opportunity to support Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, to connect with women, to take Toni’s to new places, and to show women how good they can look.
— Toni Hadad

"We are so proud of our partnership with Toni in Style," says Development Director Amy Pausche. "Toni and her team donate countless hours of their time to make this a special event for our friends and the community, which in turn supports the thousands of individuals we serve each year."

To learn more about Toni in Style and see more great fashions, like them on Facebook. 

A handful of tickets are still available for Wine Women & Shoes. Don't miss out. Grab a friend and come see Toni's talents!

Taking Control Away from Pain

Patient Kayla Smith and family

Patient Kayla Smith and family

Health isn’t just about the physical wellbeing of a child. In fact, behavioral or mental health is essential to overall health.

At the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, we welcome families who are seeking all types of treatment for their children. Many patient families are seeking care for ailments, such as cancer or organ transplants, but many come to Cleveland for mental and behavioral health issues. These include eating disorders, autism camps, ADHD programs, psychiatric care…basically any treatment that addresses the physical and emotional health of a child.

In 2016, the Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation accounted for fourteen percent of family visits, the fourth most needed treatment sought by our families.  

The Pain Rehabilitation Program helps children ages eight to 22 learn to cope with chronic pain that interferes with everyday life. The program primarily serves children with complex regional pain syndrome, chronic headaches and migraines, and conditions, such as fibromyalgia, chronic abdominal pain, and arthritis.

The goal of the program is to return children to a normal life. By the time the patients enter the program, they’re not attending school, they’re not hanging out with their friends, and they’re spending hours in medical facilities trying to identify the source of the pain. The pain changes the family dynamic. One parent is caring for the child, most likely missing work, while the other parent has to take care of siblings. This in turn may cause marital conflict.

Patients entering the pain management program have been on a long journey. Most families have seen multiple surgeons, specialists, and hospital systems. They know that surgery and medication is not going to solve the problem. Says Kristen Buchannan, program coordinator, “Because there is not a physical, medical, or organic reason for the pain, others assume the problem is psychological only.” They’re often depressed, have anxiety, or suffer from a sleeping or mood disorder.

Concern regarding dependence on prescription pain killers may also prompt families to seek alternatives to traditional pain medications alone. The opioid crisis in the U.S. is well-documented, and its victims include children and teens. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 11.5 million Americans aged 12 and older misused prescription pain medicine in 2016. At the onset, many users become addicted after a legitimate need to take prescription painkillers.

Kids learn to help themselves rather than relying on medical intervention alone.
— Kristen Buchannan

The three-week program—two weeks inpatient and one week outpatient—empowers patients to take care of themselves. The program teaches the patients mind-body skills that build better body mechanics and use relaxation and mindfulness. It includes yoga, music therapy, cooking classes, counseling with a psychologist, and a full-time teacher.

Kristen says that the best outcome is to improving family function and returning patients to a normal life. The program has seen good results. Some findings from the program:

  • Upon admission: Patients averaged 3.32 missed school days per week, and parents reported an average of 2.51 missed work days per week. Surveyed parents rated their child’s pain a 6.76 on a 0-to-10 scale. 
  • Two years after program discharge: Patients surveyed two years after their child completed the program averaged 0.22 missed school days per week, and parents reported 0.16 missed work days. Surveyed parents rated their child’s pain a 3.79. 
  • Three years after discharge: Patients surveyed three years after their child completed the program reported 0.32 missed school days per week, and parents reported zero missed work days. Surveyed parents rated their child’s pain a 3.0.

Nearly 70 percent of the rehabilitation program’s patients live outside of Ohio. Of the 30 percent who are in-state, most live at least an hour away. The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is pleased to offer families a place to call home while their children are being treated at the Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation.

To learn more about the Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation, visit their WEBSITE.

If you or a loved one needs help with substance use or mental health disorders, check out the resources on RedTreehouse.org, or call the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services toll-free information and referral line at 1 (877) 275-6364.

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Need help right away? Text the keyword '4hope' to 741 741 to be connected to a crisis counselor. It's confidential, free, and at your fingertips.

Crocheting from the Heart

When times can get tough, people tend to show their true colors.

Anna Canady and her mother Jennifer came to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland from Lakeland, Florida after Anna contracted a virus two years ago. The virus attacked Anna’s nerves and caused unrelenting pain in both of her feet.  Anna was diagnosed with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). With pain so intense it left Anna wheelchair bound, her family sought help from pain management doctors in Cleveland.

After initial appointments, Jennifer and her husband Charles had Anna admitted to a rigorous physical therapy program to help Anna stand again. So far from home, Anna and her parents realized they would need a long term place to stay. That’s when they turned to the Ronald McDonald House.

Since coming to the Ronald McDonald House, Anna and her family have found more than just a place to stay; they have found a sense of community. It’s blossomed into many new friendships between their family, staff, volunteers, and other families staying at the House. 

The real power of the Ronald McDonald House is greater than laundry and food. It’s the sense of a community that understands what you’re going through.
— Jennifer Canady

Anna, who learned how to crochet hats from her grandmother, took part in a knitting class taught by an RMH volunteer in May. Anna used the volunteer's yarn and hooks to start crocheting again. Although she hadn’t crocheted in a long time, the activity rekindled her interest. Since then crocheting has become a passion for Anna…and a way to help and think of others as she underwent her occupational therapy. When Anna and her family went back home for the summer, Anna perfected her art and crocheted more than 50 unique hats. When she returned in early August, Anna gave the hats to her friends at the House.

When you have a child with a chronic illness, it’s amazing how helping others helps them. It’s beauty. It’s art. It’s functional.
— Jennifer
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One of Anna’s friends at the House, Khaled, was adamant that she crotchet a bag for him to carry his toys. Not one to turn down a challenge, Anna made a bag and gave it to Khaled, who ecstatically belted “I am just like Mowgli!” (his favorite character from The Jungle Book). Being able to act altruistically and bring joy to others has helped provide Anna with a greater sense of purpose. It allows her to think outward rather than focus inward on the pain and difficulties she faces from CRPS.

The House has given the Canadys a place to call home while they’re in Cleveland. But by giving back during their stay, whether it’s through the kindness of Anna making something as simple as a hat for her friends or providing support to other families, they have shown the House that giving is good for everyone.

Family Room Provides Comfort & a Home

There is a saying in caregiving, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup,’ says Cindy. “Thank you, Ronald McDonald Family Room, for refilling my cup so I could be the parent I needed to be at the times my very ill son needed me the most.
— Cindy Steinbrick

It all started with a sore rib.

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By all accounts, 13-year-old Jeremy was a healthy active middle schooler. He ran track and cross country, so fast that he came in second in his age group at a popular 5K race in May 2016. A few months later Jeremy was away at camp when he complained that he had an injured rib. A trip to the ER and a blood test later showed that Jeremy had a dangerously low number of platelets. He was transported by ambulance to Cleveland.

On July 13, 2016, Jeremy was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, which is difficult to treat.

Jeremy immediately started chemotherapy. Although Jeremy’s parents, Cindy and Scott Steinbrick, live 20 minutes from the hospital where he was being treated, they were frequent users of the Ronald McDonald Family Room. Thinking they would be at the hospital for a day or two, a complication could keep them there for a week.

“Being in the hospital with a critically ill child is an overwhelming experience. Not only do you have to deal with all the emotional aspects and advocate for your child, a lot of your time is dedicated to the things that many of us take for granted at home,” says Cindy. If you run out of clean clothes, there is no dresser or closet to go to. If you want something to eat, there is no fully stocked kitchen. If you need a shower, the shower in your child's room is not available. If you want to relax, there is no comfortable living room in your child's room to hang out.” 

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The Family Room allowed Jeremy’s parents to be with him at all times. It provided the family with free snacks and hot meals, laundry, big comfortable chairs to relax away from the beeps of machines, a kitchen to cook food, and showers. Cindy was able to pack a “go” bag with three days’ worth of clothes knowing she would be able to use the Family Room if she stayed longer. And it was the only place in the hospital open after 6 pm if they were an emergency arrival.

In March 2017, the Steinbricks learned the cancer wasn’t under control. Jeremy would need a bone marrow transplant. He and Cindy arrived at the hospital on May 31 for the transplant. Jeremy was discharged on July 9 and is making progress every day. In one year, Jeremy—with one of his parents—stayed a total of 135 days in the hospital.

Last year our four Family Rooms served 80,000 individuals. Contributions from donors kept families by their children and gave them a sense of normalcy during a difficult time. Help us continue to serve our families in need. 

Expanded Kitchen Patio Accessible to All

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The Ronald McDonald House celebrated the grand reopening of the newly renovated and expanded kitchen patio with families and friends from Majestic Steel USA on August 23, 2017. After the official ribbon cutting, Majestic Steel provided dinner for the families staying at the House.

The patio is a gift from Majestic Steel USA. Majestic associates re-laid the bricks, built a retaining wall and granite countertop, installed a new grill, and planted vegetables to feed families. They also made the garden path handicapped accessible and added tables that accommodate wheelchairs. Anchoring the space is a magnificent 10-foot steel tree by artist Raymond Bugelski.

Since January 2017, Majestic has provided financial and volunteer support to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. In addition to the patio renovation, they cook family meals monthly, provide volunteers at several events, and completed group projects around the House. Majestic sponsors a room at the House and several events, including Pull Tab Palooza.

Says Melissa Duda, director of HR, “Working with the Ronald McDonald House benefits our staff in many ways. They want to help the community, and the Ronald McDonald House connects them to families and children. It’s also a great team building exercise and an opportunity to make connections within our company to people you don’t normally work with.”

Garden volunteers Nathalie and Greta are especially grateful for Majestic associates’ help. They saved volunteers hours of work moving soil, mulching, and installing an irrigation system so that they no longer have to hand water the area.

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Jonathan Leebow, executive vice president and part owner of Majestic, feels the mission of his company—to create a majestic experience for all—and that of the Ronald McDonald House closely align. And giving his staff the opportunity to help others makes his company stronger. 

Having a magnificent experience outside business helps our people. Staff living a balanced life is good for business.
— Jonathan Leebow

Pam Elefritz, an 18-year associate at Majestic, summed up her experience. “Helping the Ronald McDonald House is very fulfilling work, It’s touching, emotional, and hits my heart. These families are going through a lot. You really don’t know what the Ronald McDonald House does until you get involved.”

Volunteering opportunities at the Ronald McDonald House are available for companies, organizations, family groups, and individuals.

Ronald McDonald House Guest Becomes a Volunteer in Peru

3,709 miles. This is the distance that separates the Blondet/Villacorta family from their home in Peru and the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. The family, Miguel and Rosa, their son Vicente and Miguel's mother Amalia, came to Cleveland after learning that their son Adrian would need treatment in Ohio following his birth. It was around this time that Miguel had learned about the Ronald McDonald House from a friend in Lima, Peru. They discovered that staying at the House would allow them to remain close to the hospital, all while providing a warm and supportive environment for their family. With Adrian's birth approaching, the family began their journey to Cleveland.

Soon after their arrival in Ohio, Rosa gave birth to their second son Adrian, who is under the careful supervision and treatment of doctors. Since coming to Cleveland, Miguel, Rosa, Vicente, and Amalia have made the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland their "home away from home." From the gardens, to the community sun-room and homemade volunteer meals, the family has enjoyed many of the amenities that the House has to offer. They have even developed close friendships with many of the volunteers, staff, and families staying at the House. Volunteers Pat and Bobbe and Guest Services Coordinator Molly will always hold a special place in Amalia's heart.

Being able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is a blessing in all aspects; from human contact to economic relief. Personally I am thankful that my son and his family are receiving such loving care!
— Amalia De La Puente

As the family continues their stay in Cleveland, grandmother Amalia has returned home in Lima, Peru to continue her work as a holistic therapist. Although Amalia is now thousands of miles away, the experience she had while in Cleveland inspired her to pay it forward to families who are going through similar circumstances. Since returning home, Amalia has become a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House of Peru. There Amalia has put her work and cooking skills to good use by providing support and meals to the many families that the House serves.

When asked what made her want to become a volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House of Peru, Amalia said, “THANKFULNESS!!!” While Amalia let it be known that conditions in Lima are much different, she was grateful for the generosity and support that the community provides so that the House can continue to be a home for families as they care for their children...just as it has been for hers in Cleveland.

My family feels comfortable, secure, and loved. I believe the Ronald McDonald House is a bit of a home for now.
— Amalia

Golfers Tee Off in Memory of Dear Friend

Family, friends, and a good game of golf. These were just a few of the many things that brought joy to Tom Ackerman who passed away suddenly at the age of 60 of a heart attack in 2012. His wife Micki, daughters Kourtney and Kristin, and their families were left stunned and heartbroken. The day before his heart attack, Tom was at Acacia Country Club playing one of the best rounds of golf he had ever played. After a fun-filled day on the course, Tom went home and spent quality time with his favorite people, his family. That evening, Tom and his family said their goodnights not knowing Tom would suffer a fatal heart attack overnight.

In July of that year on Tom’s birthday, the family gathered to pay tribute and reminisce of their fondest memories together, shedding many tears and sharing a lingering sense of grief. That’s when Joe, Kourtney’s husband, had a light bulb moment. Rather than have Tom’s birthday be a day full of tears,why not do something to celebrate Tom's memory. What better way to remember Tom than to invite friends and family to gather together once a year to share memories, laughs, and time on the greens? To match Tom’s charitable heart, the Ackerman family decided to make the outing a fundraiser. After a brief search, Micki and her family chose the Ronald McDonald of Cleveland to be the beneficiary of the annual event to help families in need.

We want to make a difference in Tom’s name. And we feel like giving back is the best way to do it.
— Micki Ackerman

What began as any other fundraising event has blossomed into a strong relationship between a family coping with their sudden loss and the Ronald McDonald House, whose mission it is to serve families while they care for their children during some of the most difficult times in their lives. This year, more than 70 golfers teed off at Fowler's Mill in Chesterland, Ohio for the 5th anniversary of the Tom Ackerman Golf Outing, held on Tom’s 66th birthday. Even his grandson Colin got in on the round of 18 holes. Following a breezy afternoon on the course, golfers and guests gathered in the club house where they took part in a raffle, dinner, and learned more about the Ronald McDonald House.

We love the Ronald McDonald House! Our grandkids love coming to the House to play in the treehouse and meet the kids. That’s what makes us happy; we can see how money is being used because it’s tangible.
— Micki Ackerman

Since the inaugural event in 2013, the Tom Ackerman Golf Outing has raised more than $25,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. The funds raised from the outing have been used to sponsor room 219 at the House. Each time guests enter the room, they are greeted by the sign with Tom’s name. The Ronald McDonald House would like to thank the Ackerman family and friends for their support in helping keep families close and for creating such a fun and welcoming event that keeps Tom’s legacy alive.

The 6th Annual Tom Ackerman Golf Outing will be held at Fowler’s Mill on Friday, July 27, 2018. To learn more about the Tom Ackerman Golf Outing, visit the event's Facebook page by clicking the button below.

Sarah Keeps Smiling

Each time a guest stays at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, they embark on a journey away from their family, friends, and home. What we hope they find when they come to the Ronald McDonald House is a sense of hope, support, and a place where they can call home as they focus on rest and recovery. For Sarah Mann, who began staying at the Ronald McDonald House as a teen, and her husband Michael, their experience at the House has been just that as Sarah continues her battle against cancer. We’ve asked Sarah to share her story of survival with us in hopes that it helps inspires others. Below is Sarah’s story.


Illness is something not usually in the forefront of anyone’s mind. However, this world has taught us that anything can happen to anyone at any time. I have learned this lesson all too well, being in and out of hospitals for more than half of my life. After battling renal failure and two different types of cancer as a teenager, I was disease free for 8 years. Unfortunately, one of my cancers returned in 2015 – Ewing’s Sarcoma. Treatment and surgery put me into remission, but that, too, was short lived.

The disease returned in 2016.  It was at this point that I made contact with a Ewing’s Sarcoma specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Several trips were made between Illinois and Cleveland for many months, attempting new treatments to keep the cancer at bay, even having my left lung removed in October 2016. Unfortunately, more bad news came this past June when the cancer returned. The scan from June showed three tumors, one pressing upon the heart, causing my right lung to accumulate with fluid. My husband and I went to Cleveland expecting a simple procedure to drain the fluid. Far from simple, the procedure caused my heart to stop three times while on the operating table. It was during this time that we knew we would be in Cleveland for a long period of time. Radiation would begin soon, and then I would start another regimen of chemotherapy.

Sarah and her daughter, Abbie, on Mother's Day

Sarah and her daughter, Abbie, on Mother's Day

My husband and parents had just spent a week in a hotel, which had not been cheap. We had been informed about the Ronald McDonald House during a previous visit and decided to give them a call. I was accepted, and my family was given a room where they were able to rest and relax while caring for me. I was discharged from the hospital on June 30 and came to the Ronald McDonald House to join my husband. Radiation would begin soon. Until then, we would wait.

But our waiting was enjoyable. We have met many families going through a variety of medical issues, each having their unique story. We are grateful to the House because it has allowed us to focus more on me getting healthy and getting rid of this cancer once and for all. We haven’t had to worry about finances, meals, transportation – getting better is the only goal at the Ronald McDonald House. When our 2-year-old daughter came to visit us, we were grateful for the beautiful gardens and the extensive playground that she so enjoyed while she was here. It was a beautiful moment, just being able to be together. That’s what the Ronald McDonald House is. It is full of beautiful moments, moments that families might not have gotten if they had been anywhere else. It is all about family here.


Sarah writes a blog documenting her and her family’s journey. To read more about Sarah, visit www.smilingwithsarah.com.

Amateurs Rub Elbows with PGA Pros

PGA Touring Pros Nancy Lopez and Larry Mize

PGA Touring Pros Nancy Lopez and Larry Mize

Golfers enjoyed a beautiful day on the links (except for a slight rain delay) during the 38th Annual Ronald McDonald House Pro-Am Golf Tournament, presented by Truline Industries and University Hospitals, on Monday, June 19, 2017, at The Mayfield Sand Ridge Club.

Amateurs swung clubs and putted with PGA Touring and Local Pros and picked up several tips along the way for improving their game. Touring Pros included Zac Blair, Bud Cauley, Roberto Castro, Ben Curtis, Fred Funk, Jason Gore, Jason Kokrak, Nancy Lopez, Peter Malnati, Larry Mize, Dicky Pride, Hal Sutton, Kyle Thompson, and Harold Varner.

Asked why he chose to participate in the Pro-Am:

In 2013, I met a young cancer survivor at a Web.com event, and her story and courage inspired me through her challenges overcoming this terrible disease. I have become lifelong friends with her and her family. The Ronald McDonald House inspires me in the same way to help others going through similar challenges.
— Peter Malnati
Amateurs with PGA Touring Pro Bud Cauley (second from right)

Amateurs with PGA Touring Pro Bud Cauley (second from right)

The Pro-Am is known as the premier golf outing in Cleveland. Over it's lifetime, the Pro-Am has raised more $4 million to help the Ronald McDonald House keep families close to their children when they need them the most. This year's theme was the Family Meal Program. Each night corporate, nonprofit, and family groups come to the House and prepare a hot meal for our guests. Families don't have to worry about cooking dinner after a long day at the hospital.

The Pro-Am committee along with their families come together to have a cookout and meet guests staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.
It’s simply my favorite day of golf every year! Tour Pros and CEOs, together supporting the families of the House...it’s a great event! Play it once and you won’t ever want to miss it again.
— Andy McCartney, President, Bowden Manufacturing

To learn more about the Ronald McDonald House Pro-Am, contact Development Director Amy Pausche.

Our sincere thanks to our generous sponsors.

 

 

 

Respite at the Hospital: Family Room at Cleveland Clinic Fairview

The Ronald McDonald House celebrated the grand reopening and 8th anniversary of the Family Room at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital on Wednesday, June 14. More than 75 people toured the room, enjoyed cake and punch, and met a family impacted by the room.

RMH Executive Director Craig Wilson welcomed everyone to the new room, including speakers Keith Strauss, incoming President of the RMH Board of Directors, Dr. Neil Smith, president of Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital, Dr. Hany Aziz of the Neonatology Department, and Deb Small, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Fairview. All expressed their appreciation for the services that the Family Room provides to their families. It’s a place where parents can rest so they can better care for their children and make the best decisions for them.

Also in attendance was the Loschetter family: Erin, Chris, and 2-year-old Emmett. On May 29, 2015, Emmett was born at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital at 28 weeks. He weighed just 2 lbs. 12 oz. Emmett spent 57 days in the NICU. Chris and Erin were on 16-hour shifts with Emmett. The Family Room was a place for them to escape and take care of themselves during shift changes. They used the private restroom (much appreciated!), shared meals with other families in similar situations, ate snacks to fuel their bodies, and received help from the volunteers.

Two years later we’re still friends with the families we met in the Family Room. Emmett is best friends with NICU Noah, his neighbor during his stay at the hospital. They’re both thriving and enjoy their play dates.
— Erin Loschetter

In addition to a bathroom with a shower, the new Family Room also includes two respite rooms, the first of their kind in the State of Ohio. The rooms, which include a bed and lounge chair, are especially helpful for families who live too far away to go to home for their basic needs.

Since 2009, the Family Room at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital has served more than 69,000 visitors and provided 164 full meals. The Happy Wheels cart, which debuted last year, has visited 540 patient rooms and provided gifts to 745 individuals. Incredibly 12 current volunteers have been with the room since it first opened: Margie Bejbl; Emese Blankenship; Charlotte Chippi; Karen Hardy; Marie Kaminski; Deb Myers; Roberta Meredith; Rosemary Ogilvy; Ann Opett; Pat Ormiston; Carolyn Sesplankis; and Pauline Yee.

Says Family Room Coordinator Kathie McNeilly, “Our Family Room has the ability to make a person feel at home. It provides a sense of normalcy and peace during a time of chaos.”

The Family Room at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital is one of four Family Rooms operated by the Ronald McDonald House in the Cleveland area. Other rooms at located at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Children’s, and MetroHealth Medical Center. 

Cleveland Community Pulls Together for RMH

Who knew a small gesture could make such a big impact? During our 2nd Annual Pull Tab Palooza, the Ronald McDonald House welcomed the Cleveland community with open arms as guests donated their pull tab collections, took part in activities, and met families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

The day began with a visit from more than 20 students and 10 teachers from Greenview Elementary, followed by our friend and avid pull tab collector, Morgan Stock, and her entourage of Morgan’s Angels. Impacted by a growth disorder, Morgan collects and donates pull tabs as a way to raise awareness for and help children who also struggle with various medical conditions. Together with her parents, Michele and Mike, Morgan donated more than 1,221 lbs. of pull tabs.

Our son Zachary had brain surgery in July 2009, and we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland a few times that summer. He was 16 then and is now 24, driving, working, and seizure-free! We have been saving tabs for eight years. We want to say thank you for everything you guys do for families. We will keep collecting them!
— Mike, Mary Ann, and Zach Morris

Former guests and friends of the House also visited during the event, donated their pull tabs, and enjoyed a variety of fun activities, including Plinko, corn hole, face painting, snacks, and a Cavs selfie station where guests could snap a picture with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving fatheads. Michael Swickard and his parents, Mike and Pam, former guests of the House, donated more than 800 lbs. of pull tabs. Collect-a-Million Club members, Saint Joseph Academy, wheelbarrowed in 480 lbs.-worth of pull tabs.

After weighing and donating their tabs, guests enjoyed a magic show by Ronald McDonald, met with some of our furry and friendly animal therapists, and were treated to a visit from Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio.

Congratulations to the following winners who donated the most pull tabs in their respective groupings!

Top Individual Donor: Michael Swickard - 806.6 lbs

Top Group Donor: Girl Scout Troop 51383 - 219.2 lbs

Top School Donor: st. mary's preschool, berea – 381 lbs

Thank you to our pull tab donors for helping make our 2nd Annual Pull Tab Palooza a success! This year's final weight was 7,640 lbs. At $.44/lb., the final monetary amount donated was $3,361.60! That's more than 7.64 million pull tabs! Way to #PullTogether!

The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland would like to thank everyone involved: Morgan Stock and Morgan's Angels, Majestic Steel USA for sponsoring the event, Ferrous Processing & Trading Co. for providing recycling services, and the more than 40 volunteers who gave their time to help staff the event. This includes Majestic Steel USA, Kappus Company, University of Mount Union Alpha Delta Pi, Ashland University Alpha Delta Pi, Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio, and Ronald McDonald House volunteers and pet therapists.

Photo credit: Dave Mathias, Dave Tarbert, and Jennifer Grude

2017 Pillar of the House Awardees

Each year, the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland presents its most distinguished award to companies, groups, and individuals who have given quietly, generously, consistently and thoughtfully to the House on a long-term basis. This award recognizes the commitment and constant support provided by these community partners, allowing us to sustain our mission. 

At our annual meeting on April 26, we honored the following with the 2017 Pillar of the House Award: Mr. Edward Crawford, Fairfax Kiwanis, St. Mary’s Preschool, and ViewPoint Wealth Partners. 

Mr. Edward F. Crawford is quite possibly one of our longest donors. He began donating in 1979 to start the Pro-Am event, sponsoring the first tee for 38 years! He has given more than $750,000 to the organization. After all these years, Mr. Crawford still gets emotional when he reads notes from families.

The Fairfax Kiwanis provides programs and opportunities to enhance children’s lives. Since 2004, Howard Kleckley, his son, and others have visited the House the first Tuesday of every month. They cook and serve breakfast for our families. Nothing keeps them from helping our families, not bad weather or illness. Howard is always here, and he has recruited even more members to help. They are a kind and generous group, and we love seeing them every month. 

St. Mary’s Preschool, a part of the St. Mary’s Catholic School of Berea, has 69 students ranging from three to five years old. For 15 years, the school has been supporting the House in a variety of ways, including collecting pull tabs for the House, conducting a wish list item drive every Christmas with the families of the students, and holding their annual Winter Concert and Art Show where the children create artwork that is sold to family and friends. The proceeds from the show are donated to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland and the House in Minnesota. 

In 2001, Paul and Don joined their individual financial advisory practices, and since then have grown our team to a "family" of nine. They help clients plan their financial future. ViewPoint Wealth Partners started volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House in 2010. Their team and clients feel that giving back to the community is essential, and they felt the Ronald McDonald House was a perfect fit. Throughout the years, they have cleaned the house, hosted bingo and ice cream socials, emptied rooms of furniture to prepare for the expansion, set up new rooms, took down Christmas decorations, moved mounds of mulch, weeded, added a stone path off the kitchen, and power washed and stained the tree house. In addition to their volunteer efforts, they provide lunch for the House each time they visit. This year their clients will join them for their 3rd annual spring clean-up at the House. They also collect pull tabs and donate more than 50 pounds each year.

Thank you for all you do for the Ronald McDonald House! 

Welcome to Our Newest Partner, The Container Store!

The Container Store is opening its first Northeast Ohio location this June at La Place (corner of Richmond and Cedar Roads) in Beachwood. Committed to establishing long-term community relationships wherever they open a store, The Container Store partners with a local nonprofit to be the beneficiary of Grand Opening Weekend sales.

We are pleased to announce that The Container Store has chosen the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland as their Cleveland area nonprofit partner. As the nonprofit partner, the Ronald McDonald House will receive 10% of Grand Opening Weekend sales.

Mark your calendars. Grand Opening Weekend is June 10 and 11, 2017. Not able to visit the store that weekend? No worries! You can shop online by using their Click & Pickup service June 5-11. When you select the Cleveland store as your pick up location, 10% of Click & Pickup sales will benefit us! 

We’re committed to supporting our stores’ local communities, making them stronger and ensuring we are a big part of their success. Our culture is driven by our seven Foundation Principles and the tenets of Conscious Capitalism. And it results in an environment where the lives of everyone connected to our business are enriched and brimming with opportunity – where all of our stakeholders can thrive, including each of the communities where we do business. The Container Store gives back to the community with a focus on nonprofits that promote women’s and children’s health and well-being – organizations that our customers support and are passionate about.”
— The Container Store

The Container Store is organization heaven. Their products help customers organize everything from junk drawers, cabinets, and closets to entire rooms…even garages! They specialize in designing and installing custom closets and even provide Contained Home, an in-home organization service.

Make sure to browse The Container Store website to plan your shopping trip on June 10 and 11. We look forward to seeing you there!

Thank you to our Host Committee for supporting our partnership:

Gail McShepard
Randell McShepard
Andria Mileti
Jerry Mizer
Jakki Nance
Jim Neville
Pat Neville
John J. Russo
Karen Russo

Judy Aplis
Jamie Belkin
Katherine Boyd
Rita Cavanaugh
Tom Charek
José Feliciano
Kelly Feliciano
Drew Forhan
Nancy Forhan
Toni Hadad

Family Update: Scarlett Wallace

Scarlet with bow.jpg

When Jill Wallace was 32 weeks pregnant, she and her husband Scott Wallace found out their daughter Scarlett would have medical challenges. When she arrived six weeks later, the Wallaces stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for 28 days in 2014 while Scarlett was in the NICU. “We spent Scarlett’s first Christmas at the House,” says Jill. Six months later Scarlett was life-flighted to the hospital. Jill and Scott called on the House again, staying for 29 more days.  

Scarlet Christmas.jpg

For Scarlett’s first birthday, the Wallaces decided it was time to “pay it forward” and give back to the Ronald McDonald House. What started out as a small gathering of loved ones turned into a party for 75 people, with a full buffet and bartender serving drinks. They asked friends to bring donations for RMH. Just before Christmas 2015, Jill and Scott delivered three SUVs full of presents for the families at the House and $500 in gift cards.

Happily Scarlett has not been hospitalized since her June 2015 stay in the PICU. Although the Wallaces have not needed the services of the Ronald McDonald House, they continue to give back to the organization that kept them close to their daughter when she needed them most.

Jill had a great time with her friends at Wine Women & Shoes, one of RMH’s signature events. Scott’s company, CSA Group, has adopted RMH as a favored charity. Between donations, services, and wish list drives, CSA Group gifts over the past year and a half have exceeded $25,000. Even Jill’s mother has pitched in to help RMH. She received a grant from her employer in Elyria on behalf of RMH to pay for family services at the House and in the Family Rooms.

Scarlett turned two years old in December. She has severe epilepsy, needs a feeding tube, and looks like a nine-month-old. But Jill assures us Scarlett is a champ.

Scarlett’s daily seizures had really worn her down. She’s started taking vitamin B6, and it seems to be helping. Now she’s kicking her legs and making noises again. We even attend weekly swim therapy.
— Jill Wallace

They’re hopeful that a new treatment of daily steroid injections will help control the seizures.

The Wallaces are forever grateful to the Ronald McDonald House. “I still have all the gifts we received when we stayed at the House. Scarlett loves her special blanket and toys, and I use the bows little girls at the House made for her.”

You can read more about Scarlett’s progress on her Facebook page.

Local Celebrities Participate in Home Tweet Home

The creative side of many of Cleveland’s most famous faces was on full display during this year’s Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo. Expo attendees had the opportunity to view the many unique, funny, and ornate birdhouses created by local celebrities as part of the “Home Tweet Home” exhibit. Positioned on wooden posts for an optimal bird’s-eye view experience, guests were given the chance to vote and bid on their favorite birdhouse as part of a silent auction to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.

The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland was also the beneficiary of the 2016 Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo’s silent auction. Last year’s exhibit “Better Gnomes and Gardens” raised more than $1,100 for the House. The design “Gnome Sweet Gnome,” created by Sharon Harvey, President and CEO of the Cleveland APL, took home first place.

This year’s exhibit, featuring 20 wonderful and wacky designs, raised more than $1,400 for the Ronald McDonald House.

Thank you to the following Home Tweet Home participants!

  • Erika Lauren of The Alan Cox Show (WMMS) – In Bloom

  • Desiray of Star 102 (WDOK) – Friends

  • Glenn Anderson of Star 102 (WDOK) – Wine Cottage

  • Jimmy Malone of Majic 105.7 (WMJI) – Majic House

  • Sharon Harvey of Cleveland Animal Protection League – ByeBye Birdy

  • Laura Mutsko of Mutsko Insurance – Inn the Garden

  • Kristi Capel of Fox 8 (WJW) – Lakehouse

  • Mark “Munch” Bishop of ESPN Radio – Shelter from the Storm

  • Betsy Kling of Channel 3 (WKYC) – Beach

  • Len Howser of The Fish (WFHM) – Heavenly Tweet Matthew 6:26

  • Dan Deely of The WAVE (WNWV) – The WAVE Morning Show Chalet

  • Caitlin Dorney of Cleveland Home Shows – Rockin Robin

  • Mike Brookbank of News Channel 5 (WEWS) – Birds of a Feather

  • Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer – Cleveland Browns

  • Isaiah Brazytis of Leafstone Landscapes – Country Cottage

  • Brittney Thorne of RMH – Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland

  • Hollie Giangreco of Channel 3 (WKYC) – Emojis

  • Jen N Tim of Star 102 (WDOK) – The Jen and Tim Show on Star 102

  • Paula Balish of Cleveland Classic Rock (WNCX) – Cabin in the Woods

  • Morning Show of Q104 (WQAL) – Cleveland!

Congratulations to the Top 3 Popular Vote Winners!

  • 1st – Kristi Capel – Lakehouse
  • 2nd – Dan Deely – The WAVE Morning Show Chalet
  • 3rd – Isaiah Brazytis – Leafstone Landscapes

Spreading Love One Stitch at a Time

It all started with social media. Laura Bozell joined a community of cross stitchers on Facebook. In October 2015, Fae Kuhn of Ephrata, Pennsylvania hosted a cross stitching retreat in Hershey, PA for cross stitchers from around the globe. They came together for a weekend of stitching, fellowship, and fun.

One activity of the retreat involved raising funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA. Fae asked one of the group's favorite designers, Ursula Michael of Rhode Island, to create a design that she could stitch and present to the House (along with the raised funds) as a remembrance of the group and the weekend's event.

This sparked the idea for others in the stitching community to stitch the same design for every Ronald McDonald House and Family Room around the world.

This week Laura Bozell of Rocky River presented the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland with our own cross stitched piece to hang at the House. Laura says its "a token of appreciation for all the good you provide to children and families in time of great need."

Thank you, Laura, and all the cross stitchers who are sharing their love with Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.

Book Nook Rededicated in Big Mike's Honor

Michael "Big Mike" Orbany

Michael "Big Mike" Orbany

Never Ever Give Up. These are the words that Michael Orbany lived by, and the words of strength and perseverance that he taught his friends. Michael, who lived in Rocky River, Ohio, first began his battle against medulloblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer, in October 2010. Known by his closest companions as “Big Mike,” Michael had the brain tumor removed when he was only 6 years old.

In the summer of 2012, the cancer returned, this time spreading from his brain to his spine. It was during this time that Big Mike’s endearing and positive attitude was noticed by the community. As Michael’s cancer spread, so did his message of NEGU, which stands for “Never Ever Give Up.” Through the unwavering support of friends, family, and even strangers in the community, Michael did everything he could to bring positivity and hope to others.

One of Michael’s favorite activities was to sit down, cozy up, and get lost inside the tales of a good book. Throughout his treatments, he found an escape in the adventures and jokes of his favorite books. These tales helped shape his outlook and view of the world around him and helped him put into perspective his own condition. While cancer was a part of Michael’s life, it didn’t define him. Instead, Michael looked forward to each day with a sense of optimism, hope, and love. On May 1, 2014, at only 9 years of age, cancer took Big Mike’s life. But it didn’t take away his big spirit, which lives on in his mother, Georgianne, father, Steve, and brother, Matthew, and the hundreds of friends and family whom Michael impacted.

Searching for a way to have Michael’s legacy live on in the community, one of Michael’s friends, Joseph Grespin, of St. Edward High School in Lakewood, reached out to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland during the fall of 2016 to see if there was a way the House could incorporate Big Mike’s love of books into their service offering. A playroom bookshelf with no books was a perfect spot to hold some of Michael’s favorite stories for children at the Ronald McDonald House to read.

With Joseph’s idea and the help Jonathan Petrus, a friend of the Orbany’s, plans were set in motion not only to donate the books to the Ronald McDonald House but to hold a special ceremony to rededicate the book nook in Big Mike’s honor. On Saturday, March 11, 2017, more than 30 of Michael’s friends and family gathered at the Ronald McDonald House to share memories of Michael and read some of his favorite stories. Michael’s parents, Georgianne and Steve, even brought their own favorite stories they shared with their son and read passages to guests.

The Ronald McDonald House is honored to house some of Big Mike’s favorite books in his memory. These stories will continue to be shared and enjoyed by the many families and children who come through our House. 

Help us support the families who read Big Mike's stories at the Ronald McDonald House.