Vera laughing and playing with her twins, who are now 18-months old. They were preemie and Jayden still continues to battle health problems but Heavenly Joy is a healthy toddler. theeir family was helped by the Ronald McDonald House

Keeping Families Together

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay

For Christina Gonzalez the Ronald McDonald House at Johns Hopkins Hospital in St. Petersburg is a “life saver.” The care and support started about a year ago when she discovered bumps on her daughter, Lelani’s skull. She was a year-old at the time. After being misdiagnosed by her pediatrician and two hospitals, Christina persisted and had her transferred to Johns Hopkins. 

Ronald McDonald House is a 'Life Saver'

By this point, Christina was exhausted. “Before I found Ronald McDonald House, I was hungry, moody and too embarrassed to ask someone for help.” Someone suggested the Ronald McDonald House, which is connected to the hospital.

“They make sure I eat, give me hygiene products, remember my concerns, and allow me to vent,” said Christina, who appreciates the help. “If they weren’t there, I’d have to ask my family to support me. I don’t know what I’d do without them.” (Another child left Ezekial gets help from the Ronald McDonald House.)

Lelani Gonzalez taking a stroll with her cousin Andy.

Lelani receives treatments every three weeks and will continue through April/May. Since Christina doesn’t drive, the hospital arranges for transport back and forth. 

Although Lelani is two-years-old her development is delayed. She’s just learning to hold her head up. Born with prader-willi syndrome (similar to down syndrome) she has been diagnosed with LCH, an auto immune disease that spreads through the skull. (RIGHT-Lelani Gonzalez taking a stroll with her cousin Andy.)

The Gonzalez family is just one example of a family, who found comfort and support at the Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay.

Vera, originally from Cameron, West Africa gave birth to preemie twins. She was homeless before she found the Ronald McDonald House.

Vera, originally from Cameron, West Africa gave birth to preemie twins. She was homeless before she found the Ronald McDonald House. Her twins are 18 months old now and Heavenly Joy is healthy, but her brother Jayden continues to struggle with health issues. (Top feature image above is of Vera laughing and playing with her twins). 

While visiting from South Africa, Roxanne’s son, Max, broke almost every bone in his body when hit at a cross-walk. And, he continues to suffer from a traumatic brain injury.  The family finds solace at RMHC. (LEFT)

Family Stay together

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay has never closed its doors to families, who need a place to stay close to their sick or injured children. It is an essential service and a safe haven for families with children receiving treatment in local hospitals. 

“The pandemic has made it challenging to care for all the families who need us,” said Executive Director Lisa Suprenand. “We’ve lost significant revenue from canceled events and fundraisers, while spending more to help keep our families safe and comfortable.”

all childrens Johns Hopkins Amazing Children and the Ronald McDonald House

That’s why the charity encourages the Tampa Bay community to Give the Gift of Togetherness to support the Tampa Bay families with sick children in their own communities.  RMHC saves families about $1,000 a week between hotels, food and transportation. 

There’s no better way to spread cheer this Holiday Season and ring in the New Year than by supporting a charity like Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay charities. 

Content written by Mary Pat Giffen for Destination Tampa Bay. All photos courtesy of the Ronald McDonald House for editorial purposes only all right reserved.

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