LOMA LINDA, CA- It is a new year and organizations throughout the nation are prepping for their annual events. The Ronald McDonald House (RMH) is one of the organizations that is gearing up for it’s 2013 event.
On Sunday, April 7, the RMH of Loma Linda will be hosting its Walk for Kids event at a new venue, the Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario. In addition to this walk, other houses throughout Southern California will also be hosting Walk for Kids event. These events will be at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, Honda Center in Orange County and Shoreline Park in Long Beach.
“The day of the walk is to celebrate and remember why we do it (walk), ” Elicet Vega, Senior Account Executive of RMH, said.
This year in preparation for Walk for Kids, the Loma Linda RMH, held a kick off breakfast at the San Manuel center at Citizens Bank Arena. The breakfast is an opportunity for this year’s team captains to participate in a Walk for Kids registration demonstration, and hear first hand a family that has benefited from the services that the RMH offers.
At this year’s kick off breakfast the Lopez family gave their story on how the RMH has helped them. When Jesus and Veronica Lopez found out that they were pregnant with their second child, the couple was excited; however, that happiness was soon dampened when they found out that their son would be born with heart problems. The family, including their teenage son Matthew, rallied together to prepare for their new addition.
Once Sebastian was born, the family prepared for the surgeries that would follow. Veronica was still in the hospital and Jesus was left to figure out what to do next. It was then that a hospital case worker referred Jesus to the Loma Linda RMH. When the family arrived at the RMH, they were able to stay in the house and the house also had support groups for the family and for Matthew. Today, Sebastian only has a couple more surgeries left.
“The Ronald McDonald House has changed our lives dramatically,” Veronica said. “We no longer have to worry anymore because we have a place to stay. The staff has also shown us nothing but kindness, and have became an extended family.”
Matthew adds, “It opened up my eyes to where I have a deeper love and appreciation for life. Before my biggest concern was acne, now it is my little brother.”
This year the Lopez family is fortunate to have their son walk with them without anything attached to him. They are looking forward to seeing everyone united and to make this year’s walk just as beautiful as last year’s.
The Giron family was also at the breakfast and shared their story of how the LLRMH changed their lives. There daughter, Ivy, was in the hospital during Christmas time in 2011 due to her liver starting to shut down. Like the Lopez family, a social worker also approached the family and told them about the LLRMH, and from there the worries and long drives back and fourth to the Hospital and Palm Desert decreased. The Giron family was also able to stay in the RMH with their daughter.
“Anything that you need, they will provide it,” Sue Giron said. “We were surrounded by a lot of support, and it is still a support system till this day.”
Ivy Giron is now 18 and living a healthy life. Her brother, Isaac, 12, signed his Boy Scouts troop up to walk in support of his sister.
“This our chance to give back,” Sue said. “There are families who do not know about the RMH and the services that they offer.”
Vega adds, “Our efforts are focused on informing families on where they can stay.”
This year the overall goal that the RMH wants to raise through it’s Walk for Kids events is $300,000. This will go towards continuing to housing 150 families in their houses, plus placing an additional 20 to 40 families in hotels.
The RMH is the largest occupancy house in Southern California, and in the next few months they plan on adding 30 more rooms to the LLRMH. Since 1996, the RMH has housed 1,700 families turning no family away.
For those that would like to help, from now to April 7, you can go to your local McDonalds and donate a dollar to the RMH Walk for Kids. They will then give you a pair of red paper shoes to sign. For more information on the event, please visit www.walkforkids.org.