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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ronald McDonald House

Catie's birthday is coming up. We are going to have a little get together and we are collecting donations for the Ronald McDonald House. Someone had asked me what the houses need. It varies a bit from house to house, but I thought I'd post some of the needs here. Here is the Wish List for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald Houses. Here is the Wish List for the Savannah House. The things that are really needed at the Savannah house are in bold print. Below is a letter we sent to the Atlanta House. The Houses really are amazing places.

Dear Friends,

How do I even begin to thank you for what you have meant to us over the last nearly 4 years? I honestly do not know what we would have done without you. I had heard of the Ronald McDonald House before we needed it, and I thought, “what a nice idea,” but I had no idea what a blessing and what a necessity your homes are for families struggling with a sick or seriously injured child. I simply had no idea.

When Catie was diagnosed with cancer on her first birthday, life as we knew it fell completely apart. We were thrust into an ambulance and driven to Atlanta with no time for planning or thinking ahead. Tre’ and I both slept (or at least tried to) in the hospital room for the first week. It was then that a room at the House came open and we entered into our second home for the first time. When we arrived, we were exhausted, we were worried, and we were sick of hospital food. At your home, we found compassion, a bed to rest our heads on, and hot meals that were real food. It was a respite from the hospital to help us gather our energy to help Catie fight. And fight she did. Over the coming months and years, we spent more than 150 nights in the House. Some of our stays were one-nighters and others were for several weeks at a time. But no matter how long or short the stay, we always felt like we were coming home.

As a parent, there is not a lot you can do to ease the pain your child suffers at the hand of disease. I was always amazed at Catie’s spirit… She never once told me, “Momma, I don’t want to go to Atlanta.” She knew what an Atlanta trip meant… she knew it meant doctors and medicine that made her feel yucky or surgery and owies. But never once did she ask not to come. I have to believe that part of this was because of how much she loved the Ronald McDonald House. I remember the time that her first words after waking up from a 4-5 hour brain surgery were very adamant, “I want to go to the Ronald McDonald House!” And I can still hear her sweet voice from the back seat as we turned into the driveway of the House. “Momma?” she’d ask with a sneaky grin on her face, “Ms. Cari’s gonna get me, isn’t she Momma?”

Cari she loved you. She loved playing chase with you, laughing with you, “running” your office, and eating “noodles” from Chin Chins with you. You helped make her time in Atlanta for stuff that wasn’t so great, a fun time. As a mom, what more could I ask for?

Catie considered the House her home… I have no doubt of that. She celebrated more birthdays at the House than she did at her own. She began to crawl after her surgery for the first time there. She mastered steps by walking up and down the stairs at the House. It was there that she fell in love with The Sound of Music, baking cookies, and caramel popcorn. So many of our memories of Catie are tied to the House because of the time we spent there. You create an environment that allows families to live and live well while they’re there. I don’t think that I will ever be able to convey what that has meant to my family. Every day matters, but because our time with Catie was so short, every second was important… All the time that we lived at your house, our second home, we were able to live well, because you allowed us to.

In addition to all of this, the financial burden you lifted from our backs by being available is hard to put a value on. I have no doubt that you saved us a minimum of $15,000 in hotel bills. I cannot even begin to calculate the money saved by being able to eat the hot meals your volunteers provided every single day. How do I thank you for that?

Please know that we are here, ready and willing to do anything that we can for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. We are so grateful for all that you have done for our family and we are especially thankful for all of the wonderful times you gave Catie (and the good memories we have now because of that). Know that we consider you family and we can’t wait to come visit you (just for fun now, not because we need you) soon.

With love,
Tre’ and Jenny Wilkins

8 comments:

Chris said...

Great site -- I think of you all often. I'm not sure if this is where to sign or not . . .

Anyway, I think it's a lovely idea to collect for Ronald McDonald House for Catie's birthday.

Stephanie Deal said...

Mrs. Jenny, Thank you for continuely posting. Last year we went to the Savannah Ronald McDonald House and donated gifts. What a great way for Catie to be remembered. Praying for you always. Your Sister in Christ, Stephanie Deal

John & Kelley said...

Can we make a donation to the Atlanta RMDH in honor of Catie's memory? I don't think we can get items to them. Or we could get supplies to the Macon location. What would be the best thing for us to honor Catie on her birthday?

addie&daniel said...

what a wonderful tribute

Heather said...

Jenny,

Thanks so much for signing our blog! I used to check on Catie all the time and it was so good to find your blog and catch up on your family. Izzy is beautiful . . . what a blessing she is.

Please know that I am praying for your family as Catie's birthday approaches. Catie's strong spirit lives on in all of you!

Love & FROG,
Heather

Sharon Williams said...

Hi, Jenny, Tre and Izzy.
Still checking in on you guys and always thinking of you.

Ryan Morgan said...

Hi Jenny, I love the pictures of Catie's wish trip. What great memories you have and will always have. Dr. Claire saw Ryan last time we were inpatient-she actually sent us home, and unusually early, too! She was so awesome. We said,"hey, you're Catie's doctor!" I think she liked that! Love, Missy

Annie said...

Hello. I have been a reader of the caringbridge site for a long time. I just wanted to let you know that I made a video and your Catie makes an appearance

http://youtube.com/watch?v=0Cz8l8FBf4M
Take Care ♥