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Healing with siblings by their side

May 31st, 2022

The Ronald McDonald House was founded on the belief that families are stronger and can better cope with a child’s illness when they are together. In April, the Ronald McDonald House in Madison welcomed back siblings after temporarily allowing only patients and parents/guardians to stay as part of our COVID-19 restrictions. Not only do families have one another to lean on, but they also find support in other families staying at the House as communal areas are reopened for use.

Jessie and Jarrod are the parents of 4-month-old twin boys, Harley and Anthony, who were born in Rockford, Illinois. At just a month old, Anthony was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease and breathing disorder that affects how a newborn’s lung tissue develops. Babies with BPD often need help with breathing in the early days of their life.

“I cannot imagine what it would be like without the Ronald McDonald House. We are from just outside of Rockford and would not be able to see Anthony as much if it were not for the House,” said Jarrod, Anthony’s dad.

The family first stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for two weeks in December 2021, when Anthony underwent a heart procedure at the American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH). Jessie and Jarrod felt relieved thinking that the procedure was the answer they were looking for as they watched Anthony start to get better. However, Anthony got an infection and continued to battle breathing issues. He was brought back to AFCH for more surgeries and mom, dad, and twin brother, Harley, were all able to be by Anthony’s side by staying at the Ronald McDonald House again.

“Because of COVID-19 restrictions during the first few months of our stay, we were not able to have our other children with us at the Ronald McDonald House. This separation was hard on the family. We missed out on a lot of time with them because we needed to be here with Anthony, so we are glad to be together again as a family.” said Jarrod.

The Ronald McDonald House supported Jessie and Jarrod, allowing them to support their son throughout his treatment. The proximity to the hospital made visiting Anthony much easier. They also enjoyed the access to a kitchen, which made home-cooked meals a possibility; the family gathering room, where they had movie nights; the laundry room; and the playroom, where all of their children had tons of fun!

“Our other children always ask when they can come back to the Ronald McDonald House. They love the art room and playing at Hope Park. We cannot say thank you enough. Everyone has been extremely nice and polite. They care about how we are doing, and we always feel welcomed,” said Jessie and Jarrod.

To the Weaver family, RMHC has stayed true to the mission of being a home-away-from-home. These days, baby Anthony still requires too much breathing assistance to be put on a home ventilator. RMHC still believes that families are stronger when they are together and will continue supporting Anthony’s family so they can continue to be close to Anthony and give him the love and support that is crucial to healing.