Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
Welcome to the first ever Helping Families Blog post. This post is following a heartfelt weekend which was in all sense of the word absolutely perfect. Yesterday some Helping Families volunteers and I went grocery shopping and cooked a dinner at the Ronald McDonald House, with their Home for Dinner program. The house gives families a roof over their head when they need to travel to a different city for their child to get medical treatment. On average, the house is usually represented by 1/3 of the families being childhood cancer families.
We received a tour of the house last December, and in doing so, we found out that the house had a cooking program where groups or businesses could come in a cook for all the families that were staying there. Immediately the Helping Families team wanted to get involved. We put the word out to some of our board members and cancer families who have received support from a Ronald McDonald House in their journey and immediately got two of our Care Program families who wanted to give back to the community. One of these families stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto, as their daughter Dallis is battling cancer tumors in her eyes. The other family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton when their son Malcolm, who sadly has now passed away, battled Leukemia and open heart surgery, caused by medication used in his cancer treatment.
I also had cancer as a child. I was diagnosed with terminal cancer (Rhabdomyosarcoma, a then rare cancer) when I was one year old and battled it until I was 7. At one point my Mom and I traveled to Toronto for a special surgery that wasn’t performed here in Calgary. My Mom stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto for three months.
Our group of board members, cancer families, and other Helping Families supporters rolled up our sleeves to provide a home cook meal for families who wouldn’t have one otherwise. For the families who have been helped by a Ronald McDonald House, it was a chance to bring our journey full circle, to give back to an organization that was there for us when we needed it the most. It was a heartfelt experience, from beginning to end. A f
ew of the families we support who were living in the house came by to introduce themselves, many of them I have only talked to on the phone, by email or text messages. It was so nice connecting face to face and to be able to give them a big hug.
After dinner most of the volunteers headed home, but my Mom (Robyn), Cheryl, Heather and I went across the street to the Rotary Flames House to see a very special little guy – Dom, I have talked about Dom a lot and these girls had come to know him from Facebook posts. Also Dom’s Dad (Sean Rooney) spoke at our Art Exhibit gala last year. We were all so touched by his story and always have people asking Helping Families how he, his wife (Trish) and Dom are doing. We brought three balloon animals that walk/trail behind the person who is holding the string. Immediately, Dom started giggling and squeaking. He loves wagon rides more than anything else so we took him up and down the hallways with his new balloon animals trailing behind him. He would turn around, watch them following him and laugh. That was the perfect end to a perfect day and a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Note from Trish Rooney: Everyday we have to take his animals for a walk. Lol