My wife Cynthia and I met our great-granddaughter Raylee when she was six-months-old and suffering from infantile spasms. She was having up to 60 seizures a day and would sometimes stop breathing. We were so lucky to find an amazing child neurologist to treat Raylee at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. That is over 130 miles from our home in Valley, AL, so it was then that we first came to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama. We were so blessed that they had space for us!
Each time we brought Raylee in for her seizure treatments, we would stay at RMHC of Alabama for two or three days. The staff here did everything they could to help us get a room when we needed to be in Birmingham. And while we were there, they took such good care of us – always going out of their way to be helpful. After more than two years of traveling back and forth, staying at the House, and bringing Raylee in for treatments, we were thrilled to learn that she was seizure-free.
Things went well for a while. We brought Raylee home and enrolled her in a special needs school. But when she was four-and-a-half, Raylee was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma. Again, we were blessed to find a team of wonderful doctors who felt they could help Raylee, and so grateful to be able to stay at the House.
Raylee endured 27 months of chemo and more than her share of complications and scary moments. We know in our hearts that we wouldn’t have gotten through this journey without our friends at the House rallying around us. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to hold on to our house or car without the support of RMHC.
For Raylee, this is home. She loves it here. Each night after dinner, she can’t wait to go outside and sit on the bench with the statue of Ronald or rock in her favorite chair. Raylee has been through so much in our time here, but we have had a lot to celebrate, too. Last Christmas, we even got to watch out the window as Santa arrived. There truly has never been a better Christmas for our family.
On September 15, 2015, we had our most joyous celebration of all. After 27 months, Raylee had her last session of chemo. We marched through the hospital and the cancer clinic waving our sign while all the doctors and nurses cheered for Raylee. Then we came back and celebrated some more with our friends at the House. Though Raylee’s health is still fragile, that was a joyous day for our family.
For Cynthia and me, Raylee is the biggest blessing of our lives. We wouldn’t trade one second of the time we’ve had with her. And we know in our hearts that Raylee wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Ronald McDonald House Charities. We are so grateful, but saying ‘thank you’ will never feel like enough. This holiday season, please give as generously as you can.