A Special Place Indeed

January 23rd, 2024

The most memorable times at RMHC-M often come when least expected, walking through the Ronald McDonald House or Family Room and going about your daily routine. These chance encounters are bucket fillers, inspiring our work at just the right moments.

A family was recently gathered in the breakfast bar, a young mother fixing a snack for her three children, all mesmerized as they watched cartoons on the television screen. Nothing out of the ordinary. A scene you might find in any home, on any given day. Yet this scenario was far from normal. These school-aged children have a sibling at American Family Children’s Hospital. Their mom took a break from the hospital to make sure her other children were cared for, too. She was smiling but weary. The kids appeared comforted by something familiar. Without looking up, one of the young kids announced to no one in particular, “This hotel is pretty special.” His mom’s face and shoulders softened.

Later, our staff welcomed more than a dozen new UW Badger football players, incoming freshmen, and transfer student-athletes, who were making dinner for guest families that night. Badgers Give Back has been dedicated to providing this experience for their teams, a meaningful partnership for both missions.

That same young family, who gathered around the breakfast bar earlier in the week, came around the corner to find the kitchen filled with big-hearted football players, making spaghetti, and desserts, and cleaning areas that only 6’7 athletes could reach.

One of the children became emotional. He sat down near the sunroom, just outside of the kitchen, taking it all in. An athlete noticed and came over to put his hand on the child’s shoulder. Then encouraged him to play a game of “rock, paper, scissors” until the child was no longer upset.

These moments can’t be produced. They come from the goodness of people reaching out to help each other.

For three decades, the Ronald McDonald House in Madison has provided a home-away-from-home for thousands of families who have a child treated at an area hospital and far from home. The type of illness or injury is not a factor. How long their child is in the hospital is not an issue for our mission.  If the House is full – which most nights it is – we have critical hotel partnerships to make sure families don’t have to worry about the cost of staying in a warm, comfortable room.

If the January gloom and nasty weather have you down, we have a spot for you to plug in and give back. Those who walk through our doors to share their kindness, or support our chapter in other ways make this a special place indeed.