Tie on A Red Tie Smile For the Ronald McDonald House: One Family’s Story & How You Can Help
“It’s basically home away from home,” says Nina Monaco while keeping an eye on her three year old, Ella. The Long Island family is wrapping up its third visit to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.
Last year the world’s 305th Ronald McDonald House opened in the Queen City. The House provides a home atmosphere, clean rooms and hot meals for families with medically fragile children receiving care at nearby hospitals.
Ella has Nager Syndrome. The extremely rare condition stunted the development of the bright little girl’s lower jaw so that her tongue blocks her airway forcing her to wear a trach. She only speaks in sign and cannot eat traditionally.
Nina says, “I blend all of Ella’s meals. Being able to take my blender and have a kitchen and measuring cups and all the things I need to get her dietary needs met. You know, things like that. I can’t do that in a hotel.”
By now the precocious little girl has commandeered her mom’s iPhone to watch a parrot whistling If You’re Happy & You Know It on YouTube. Nina laughs and tries to snatch it back as she exclaims, “I don’t know how she finds it.”
In April, Ella underwent the first phase of a three-part surgery called a jaw distraction meant to elongate her jaw. During that trip she and her family stayed at Ronald McDonald House for nearly two months.
Since opening its doors in May of 2011 the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte has been a “home away from home” for nearly 700 families from all over the United States and seven other countries… And it doesn’t come cheap. The RMH of Charlotte’s Annual Report lists $3000 a month for the electricity bill alone. To house just one family overnight is $89, although the recommended family donation per night is only $15 and no payment is required.
That’s where fundraising comes in, and where you have a chance to help. This Friday, October 5, 2012 the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte’s Young Professionals Society presents the Red Tie Gala. The event runs from 6:30pm-10:30pm at the Levine Museum of the New South, tickets are $60 each. It’s a chance to network, enjoy a cocktail and some great food, plus bid on an auction item or two, and look spiffy while you do it.
Evening Manager Jillian Ho says, “All of the funds that are raised during any of these events come straight back to the House so that families like the Monacos, or whoever, can stay here.”
Ella will likely need another jaw distraction surgery a year from now and untold more before her recovery is complete. Her dad Eric says the House isn’t just a clean place to stay and a hot meal; it’s also about comfort and support. He glances at his wife as he says, “Families go through some traumatic things, (the volunteers and staff here) they make you feel like you’re part of their family.”
And that’s what the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte aims to do.
To learn more about Ella’s journey visit LoveMyElla.blogspot.com.