Last updated on June 17, 2022
When I received a letter from Faye that she was retiring from the House, I knew I wanted to attend her going away party. We brought balloons and celebrated with the extended Ronald McDonald House family this new season in her life as she made plans to return to her home in Jacksonville. What I didn‘t know is one week later (see the photos), my 7-year-old daughter from Nepal would be rushed to Shands after becoming unconscious from a partial complex epileptic seizure.
I didn’t go home during the first seven days of Manisha’s hospitalization. Even though I live in Gainesville, it was too far to travel. I wanted to be within walking distance of the hospital in case she needed me or if something happened.
During Manisha’s hospitalization, I met other families with sick children. For those from out of town, the Ronald McDonald House was everything. I saw once again how much the House meant to those families.
Because the doctors at Shands were unable to come to a definitive diagnosis for my daughter’s medical emergency, I took Manisha to Yale for a second opinion. I knew there must be a Ronald McDonald House near the hospital, and upon doing a little research, I found one. We booked our reservations to stay at the House. Upon arriving, the House put us up in a hotel because of renovations, so we didn’t stay at the House, but they paid the costs for us to stay at a motel across from the hospital.
Life is like a merry‑go‑round, isn’t it? When I arrived to deliver my books to the Ronald McDonald House, I had no idea I was going to share my story with the House staff. Sheri Houston, the executive director, said I was her Godwink. The House is in the process of raising donations to expand. Too many families must wait on a waiting list because the House is always full. Ms. Houston asked me if I would be willing to be an ambassador and share my story of how much the Ronald McDonald House meant to me. I didn’t tell her this, but I knew this was my opportunity to pay it forward, as I had asked God to show me. My trip that morning wasn’t just to deliver books. It was to share my heart.
I’m thankful to say that Manisha, who is twenty-five now, is healthy and seizure-free. The doctors determined she did not have a tumor and diagnosed her with neurocysticercosis—a parasitic infection of the brain caused by a tapeworm lavae, something she contracted before I adopted her from Nepal.
I am convinced life is full of Godwinks and divine appointments. If I have piqued your interest, I hope you will take this opportunity to learn more about the Ronald McDonald House. Many opportunities abound, including volunteering, cooking a meal, donating money that will go toward the expansion—even learning more about how the Gainesville community is helping families and children from around the world.
The storms of unforeseen medical crises hit hard and when least expected, but at the Ronald McDonald House, families don’t have to walk that road alone. A volunteer, staff member, or friend is always nearby ready to help and offer hope.
Do you think you could make a difference? You bet. Click here to learn more about the Amazing Give 24-hour Fundraising Campaign.