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 Vincente 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, Vincente, 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.

Household of 2 Becomes Family of 6

You know when you’re sitting at the gate, and the pilot is giving you safety instructions. ‘Put on your air mask first before assisting others.’ Well, being in this situation is like that, except you can’t put the air mask on.
— Melissa Beadle, mother of quadruplets

Melissa and Bob Beadle had tried for several years to have a child, but they struggled with infertility. They decided to try one last time, and in November 2015, Melissa found out she was pregnant. The next month during a routine sonogram, they saw four babies on the screen!

The Beadles made the decision in February 2016 to have the babies at a Cleveland hospital. The hospital near their home, a one and half hour drive from Cleveland, didn’t have enough staff or the experience of delivering quadruplets. Every Friday they would visit Cleveland, until at 21 weeks in her pregnancy, Melissa came to Cleveland to wait for the babies to arrive.

Since their insurance wouldn’t pay for a hospital stay until 23 weeks, Melissa stayed at a hotel for two weeks, a major expense, while her husband commuted back and forth to work.

On May 1, 2016, Geo, Gia, Leo, and Lea were born at 28 weeks, weighing in at 2.2 to 2.9 pounds. The Beadles knew they would need to stay in Cleveland while the babies grew. That’s when Melissa’s dad told her about the Ronald McDonald House. Because both work, they had never been eligible for any kind of assistance, so they weren’t sure they would be allowed to stay. Melissa’s mom called with the happy news! The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland had a room for them. It was just the support they needed. 

When you’re in a medical situation with your children, you have so many emotions, and you feel overwhelmed. You’re so lost because you’re caught up in it. The Ronald McDonald House helped us feel connected again. The hospital cared for our children. The House cared for us, their parents.

“When we first arrived from the hospital, I just didn’t know what to expect. It was pouring down rain, and I had to use the House wheelchair because I was so sick. The rooms were clean and homelike.”

Bob, who worked the entire three-month stay, appreciated that Melissa was safe and with other people—her parents, House guests, staff, and volunteers. When a local television station tried to get the scoop on the quads, the House protected their privacy. Melissa made friends with another NICU mom staying at the House, and they still text each other today. And they appreciated the free shuttle that gave them rides to and from the hospital, even late at night.

The last baby went home in July of 2016. They are now healthy and happy 10-month-olds, each with his and her own personalities. Mom and Dad are forever grateful to the people who helped them during their time of need. “Day after day I felt like I was never going to go home,” Melissa Explains. “But the Ronald McDonald House embraced us and helped us through this journey.”

At 10 months, the babies are thriving. Geo has four teeth. Lea, the smallest baby, is the most feisty of the bunch. Gia loves Elmo. Leo, who was the last baby to go home, is the only baby with blue eyes. (The rest have brown.) His first love is Cookie Monster. All the babies love Sesame Street and Baby Einstein. They're now eating cereal and bulking up...from two to 14-16.2 pounds.

Continue to help families like the Beadles.

The Garden House

Spring is right around the corner at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. Guests and volunteers alike are hoping that Punxsutawney Phil got it wrong on Groundhog Day this year when he saw his shadow, a sign that winter will stick around for a few more weeks. With spring soon upon us the House is busy preparing for another exciting year of providing gardens for families to enjoy.

Volunteer master and novice gardeners were found twiddling their green-thumbs in anticipation for the new season during a recent Garden Committee meeting at the House. The group is currently planning an important new feature to the south side of the property just off of the kitchen patio and improved landscaping to help make the entrance more attractive. They will be creating a new path along the outside edge of the garden to make it wheelchair accessible for guests. The garden space adjacent to the path will feature a bevy of new potted plants that are waist-high for easy access.

Known as the “Garden House”, the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland boasts more than 2.2 acres of green space in the heart of University Circle and just steps from the Cleveland Clinic and has a coy pond, patio and playground. The House wouldn’t receive this unique distinction if not for the selflessness of more than a dozen volunteers who oversee the House’s grounds. Led under the steadfast direction of Bobbe Katzman, the group creates unique and beautiful designs that highlight the various vegetation growing at the House. The beauty of the plants often elicits a sense of wonderment and awe from guests.

Guests of the House visit the gardens and ask ‘What is that?!” Such a simple question and response begins the volunteer’s journey to learn more about a guest’s story and life.
— Bobbe Katzman

The conversation that ensues often leads the gardeners to grow a special bond with guests and families at the Ronald McDonald House and puts their role and contributions to the House into perspective.

The layout of the gardens was established more than 20 years ago by landscape architect and visionary, Richard Heaton. Richard’s goal was to have the gardens be used by families as a place of solace, comfort, and healing away from the hustle and bustle of the hospital. The trees and shrubs Richard planted were strategically selected. Each provides food that attracts birds to the property, thus bringing more nature to the House. It was this vision that continues to grow in new and exciting ways each spring.

In 2015, volunteers, with support from the Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County, planted a vegetable garden outside the kitchen. The garden provides fresh vegetables and fruit for the nightly family meals. Two raised boxes were added in 2016 to allow guests in wheelchairs to help tend the plants.

Do you have a green thumb? Like to get your hands dirty and work outside? Join the garden volunteer group today!

I remember I was having a really rough day at the hospital tending to my daughter. I came back to the Ronald McDonald House and sat between the pine trees and was able to clear my mind and refocus.
— Kitty, RMH Guest

This Teen Serves Families

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Kayla Radel was just five days old when she had her first open heart surgery. “It was a life and death situation,” her mom, Shelly, explains. “There were complications. We were living at the hospital.”

Even though they resided locally in Brook Park, Kayla’s condition was too touch-and-go to be that far away from her. Halfway through her five-and-a-half month hospital stay, a social worker told Shelly and her husband John about the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.

John and Shelly appreciated the comfortable bed to sleep in, the transportation to and from the hospital, and the meals. And their two-year-old son could stay with them at the House.

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Their 10-week stay nurtured their love for the Ronald McDonald House. They began giving back to the House in numerous ways. John carried three-year-old Kayla on his shoulders up the steps of the first Tackle the Tower. They collected pull tabs, attended fundraisers, cooked meals for the families, and wrote thank you notes to donors.

Kayla, now a junior at Berea-Midpark High School, was looking for a volunteer opportunity. An acquaintance told them about the Teens Who Serve program, which provides area teenagers the opportunity to earn service hours while exposing them to the mission and vision of the Ronald McDonald House. Kayla signed up right away. "I joined the Teens Who Serve Program because I wanted to give back. "They helped me and my family so much I wanted to find a way to say thank you!"

One requirement of the program is to plan a fundraiser or wish list drive. Kayla decided to hold a wish list drive at her local elementary school where she also volunteers. She enlisted the Spirit Club to help her hang posters throughout the school, and she sent home letters with each student. Her former third grade teacher, Roberta Caleris, became the drive’s cheerleader, and items started pouring in.

We were overwhelmed by the response. We would have been happy to fill one big box. We never expected we would be delivering several boxes to the House! One mother even thanked Kayla for being a good role model for her daughter.
— Shelly Radel

Do you have a teenager who is interested in serving the community and learning more about the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland? Applications for the Summer 2017 session will be available this spring.

Tackling the Tower for RMH Families

Thank you to everyone who organized and worked at this event to make it a fun-filled day. Having never done anything like this in my life before, I had no idea what to expect. It was wonderful!! Looking forward to doing it again next year.
— Janet Grasso

Nearly 1,000 participants gathered on Saturday, February 4, 2017, for the 15th Annual Tackle the Tower at the Galleria & Tower at Erieside. The Galleria was abuzz with runners and walkers who climbed 37 floors, or 728 steps, to support the families of the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.

The event kicked off with a Fun Walk, followed by the race. Runners took a break to cheer on Cleveland mascots – Moondog of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ketchup, Mustard, and Onion of the Cleveland Indians, Pozzie of the Canton Charge, Webster of the Akron Rubber Ducks, and Skipper of the Lake Erie Captains. Moondog beat the all-time mascot record with a time of 6:44.1.

Ronald McDonald rang the start of the Firefighter Challenge. Firefighters from more than 20 stations climbed the stairs in full gear, weighing in at more than 40 pounds! Some even wore air masks. (Many departments use the Tackle the Tower as a training opportunity.) Both the male and female Firefighter Challenge records were shattered: Joshua Allen with a time of 6:43.5 and Natalie Tomcsak with 7:58.1.

Two other all-time records were bested this year: Male 60 and Over - Jeff Winch with 5:35.7; Female 20 to 24 - Audrey Smolik with 5:36.9. Race times are now posted on the Hermes Cleveland website.

We could not put on Tackle the Tower without the help of dozens of volunteers who worked race day. Thank you! We would also like to thank our very generous sponsors: Life Storage, Majestic Steel USA, Athersys, Cleveland Monsters, The Anderson DuBose Company, Coca-Cola, Sirna & Sons Produce, Weston Hurd LLP, Consolidated Solutions, and Suburban Press. A special shout out goes to CARE, Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees, for providing EMT to keep our runners safe and healthy.

Make sure to visit our photo gallery on our Facebook page. 

JT's Championship

While the Cleveland Cavaliers were setting the stage for their first NBA Championship, 12-year-old Cavs fanatic, JT Gayhart, was embarking on his own journey.

All of his life, JT had been experiencing chronic dizziness that led to vomiting. His family had admitted him to various hospitals for treatment where he received countless GI exams that provided little help.

In March 2016, JT’s mother and father, tired of witnessing their son be subjected to increasingly painful migraines, sought the help of a pediatric neurologist in Cleveland. After visiting with the neurologist, the Gayharts finally received answers to the cause of JT’s debilitating migraines: a significant Chiari 1 Malformation of the cerebellum. Not only did JT have the malformation, he also had swelling along his spine.

As the Gayharts were getting answers, hope and joy collided as the Cavs clinched their first NBA Championship. Wanting to prevent any potential neurological side effects from the spinal cord swelling, doctors scheduled JT for surgery. The date of the operation? June 22, the same day as the Cavs championship parade. With JT’s surgery and recovery looming, the Gayharts scrambled to find a hotel room that was both cheap and close to the hospital. It was at this point that Yvonne and her husband were referred to the Ronald McDonald House by Yvonne’s aunt. 

What a blessing! We were welcomed in immediately, given a tour, and shown our room, which was clean and well-kept. We could ALL stay to support each other and be there for my son.
— Yvonne Gayhart

While the hospital cared for JT, the Ronald McDonald House cared for his family so that they could provide the foundation their son needed to recover. "At a time when we could not work and finances were so tight, the onsite amenities of laundry, family dinners, an area for our other children to stay, and transportation to and from the hospital were amazing and comforting," Yvonne says.

Being a self-proclaimed “HUGE” Cavs fan, JT distracted himself in the preoperative room by watching the championship parade with family and hospital staff. After undergoing a successful surgery, JT and his family returned home after less than a week at the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. Grateful for the comfort that the House provided, Yvonne and her family now speak about their experience any chance they get. 

Because of our experience, I have encouraged the physicians I work for and co-workers to donate to the Ronald McDonald House.
— Yvonne

In December 2016, the Ronald McDonald House partnered with the Cavaliers to provide tickets for the Christmas Day rematch between the Cavs and Warriors. Knowing how big a Cavs fan JT is, his grandmother grabbed a pair of tickets for JT and his dad. Little did she know that her purchase would give JT the chance to high-five the players as they entered the court. With his jaw on the floor, JT slapped hands with the reigning NBA Champions, bringing full circle the family’s journey in Cleveland. 

You can support families just like JT's by making a donation today!

Pulling Together

Pop! Fizzle! Snap!

That noise, the noise made when pulling off the small tab from a can of soda, was music to Monica’s ears. Born with Down syndrome, Monica Jakubisin was also born with a compassionate heart and strong desire to help families facing uncertain circumstances. During Monica’s first job after high school, she learned about the impact that donating the little tabs of aluminum had in helping families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. The organization works with a local recycler to turn donated tabs into cash to help families staying at the House.

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Monica knew the purpose of the Ronald McDonald House was to help families stay close by when their child was in the hospital. Monica had enough hospital experience to know that you want your family to be near when you are sick.
— Mary Ellen Jakubisin, Monica’s mother

From that moment forward, Monica has been committed in collecting tabs any time she sees them on an empty can. She places the tabs into sandwich baggies and cups and then into a bigger container for easy storage. Word of Monica’s philanthropic efforts eventually reached her extended family in Florida, and during the family’s visit to the sunshine state, they presented her with a box full of pull tabs to contribute to her donation. In April 2015, Monica and her family made their first visit to the Ronald McDonald House to donate her collection of pull tabs. When she arrived, House volunteers weighed the tabs…10 lbs worth, which totaled more than 10,000 pull tabs!

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Thrilled with her donation, Monica wanted to keep pulling for the House so she could do her part. Last spring, Monica learned that the Ronald McDonald House would be hosting their inaugural Pull Tab Palooza event. All were welcome to visit the House, interact with guests and pet therapy volunteers, and watch a magic show by Ronald McDonald. Monica was sold, and in May she and her family once again made a special visit to donate her pull tab collection and contributed to the 4,600+ lbs of pull tabs that were donated by the community that day!

Thank you, Monica, for pulling for the Ronald McDonald House! We hope to see you at this year’s Pull Tab Palooza on Friday, May 19, 9 am-6 pm, at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland! 

Running for a Reason

When Jennifer and Clayton Brown found their daughter Aubrey having a seizure in the middle of the night, their world froze. The family from Sanford, Michigan, put everything on hold to search for answers to help their 12-year-old daughter. With seizures so severe they placed Aubrey in the ER, the Browns sought counsel from local neurologists and doctors. But Aubrey’s seizures continued and grew worse. The unexpected nature of her condition left Aubrey, a competitive gymnast, unable to perform, and the family grew weary.

In the summer of 2014, Aubrey experienced a seizure that lasted 30 minutes, a particularly long and dangerous attack. Jennifer and Clayton turned to local resources to find answers, but the hospital had a six month wait list. With their Michigan contacts tapped out, Jennifer called a Cleveland hospital and set up an appointment for the coming week. The family began their six-hour drive to Cleveland on a crisp September day.

The pediatric epileptologist diagnosed Aubrey with cortical dysplasia on her right frontal lobe, the cause of her grand mal seizures. Aubrey was admitted to the hospital for a week so doctors could video and EEG monitor Aubrey’s nightly seizures.

With hotel expenses and hospital bills piling up, a nurse told the Browns about the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. At the House, they found a warm and welcoming environment where they could get much needed rest and food.  It was a place where they could take care of themselves and, in turn, take better care of Aubrey. 

The Ronald McDonald House took us in and told us we could stay as long as we needed. We were so stressed out, but we knew we had a safe haven at the House. You can’t put a price on that.
— Jennifer Brown

The House also helped them put their own experience in perspective. Clayton met a nine-year-old guest who also had frequent seizures and was awaiting a hemispherectomy to treat his epilepsy. Despite his medical challenges, the boy greeted each day with an enduring sense of optimism.

After many more visits to Cleveland for treatment over the next two years, doctors were finally able to identify a medication successful in reducing Aubrey’s nightly seizures from 10-15 per night to zero. With the new treatment Aubrey is now participating in competitive cheer and pole vaulting and getting a better night’s sleep, which has helped her excel in school.

Thankful to the Ronald McDonald House for providing for her and her family while in Cleveland, Jennifer wanted to give back, but was unsure how. A marathon runner, she had a serendipitous encounter in August with a man running the North Country Trail in Michigan on behalf of Ronald McDonald House. Jennifer was inspired and decided to run the Detroit Marathon in October 2016 to raise funds and awareness for the House.

Running for the Ronald McDonald House gave me a cause to run for, which helped give me focus and meaning when times became tough during my training.

Jennifer had her Creekers for a Cause, a group of philanthropic youth at the high school where she is a counselor, get involved by hosting a “Rise to Shine” campaign to collect wish list items and pull tabs for the House. Jennifer also raised more than $900 in donations from family and friends in support of her run. After a tough but successful Detroit Marathon run, she, Clayton, and Aubrey visited the House to drop off the donations and share their journey with volunteers and staff.

In an effort to continue to give thanks for the stability the House provided them when caring for Aubrey, Jennifer has registered to run on Team Ronald McDonald House Cleveland for the Chicago Marathon on October 8. When asked why she decided to run again on behalf of the House, Jennifer put it simply, “I have a strong desire to give back to the House and contribute in a way that I know how. Also, I look forward to seeing others on Team Ronald McDonald House and being a part of a group that is proud to run for such a great cause.” 

Families Give from the Heart

When Christine and Jack Gardner were sitting at the bedside of their son, Kaiden, they never imagined they would be in a position to help other families. At birth, Kaiden was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease known as Tetralogy of Fallot. At three months, he was admitted to the hospital for his first surgery, which took place on December 28, 2012.

Mom and Dad, who live in Massillon, had no plans to leave the hospital without their son. For 11 days they slept by his bedside so they could be close to him at all times. While there, they used the Ronald McDonald Family Room daily. They did their laundry, took showers, ate snacks, and relaxed in the recliners. 

The Family Room was our safe room. It was a quiet place where we could gather our thoughts while we waited for updates on Kaiden.
— Christine Gardner

In addition to the emotional toll it took on the family, the time was financially difficult. Christine couldn't work for nearly a year after Kaiden's birth. And they didn't expect to stay in the hospital so many days. "The food at the Family Room really helped us with expenses."

The Gardners had always been a generous couple. Each year the softball tournament they organized raised thousands of dollars for local charities. After their experiences with Kaiden, they founded Kaiden Kares, a nonprofit that provides Kare Bags for families staying at the hospital. The bags include toiletries, coloring books and crayons, games, snacks, and other comforts.

On December 28, 2013, the one-year anniversary of Kaiden's successful surgery, the Gardners and their friends came to the Ronald McDonald House to cook a meal for the families. They've been coming on that date ever since. This year they brought several Kare Bags for the Ronald McDonald Family Room families on behalf of their nonprofit.

When Kaiden was a baby, we barely got by financially. Now we’re in a position to give back. We are honored to help the Ronald McDonald House families.

Today Kaiden is a happy, thriving little boy. "He's a pistol," Christine says. "When something like this happens to your family, your life changes completely. You realize what's really important."

We have many opportunities for you to help the families of the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.