The Fife's Story
So, there I am sitting at the dining room table with another father staying at the Savannah Ronald McDonald House. He had that same shell-shocked look that my wife and I had the week before. I asked why he and his wife were there and he told me the story about their baby being born prematurely. Their little guy was only one and a half pounds.
My heart sank so deep for this family and the struggles that they were going through. After a short period of time, he looked up and asked, “So, how big is your baby?” I said, “Well, our baby is about 205 pounds and six feet tall.” After a very confused look from him, I shared our son’s story.
We are David and Linda Fife from Utah. Our son, Cory (19), had been in Savannah for about three months on a mission trip. While riding his bike over a bridge he was struck from behind by a utility van. He sustained numerous injuries, the worst of which was a traumatic brain injury.
Cory was in a coma for almost two weeks. Once he awoke, he underwent a couple of surgeries and then moved into rehabilitation. He progressed miraculously and we were able to return home after seven weeks of being in Savannah.
On the first night that we were at the hospital, the nurse in the trauma unit realized Cory was only 19 and was still a “child.” She called over to see if there was room at the Ronald McDonald House and thankfully, there was. Being at the House, provided us with so much love, support and compassion during this time.
When you are so far from home with no family, it is so wonderful to have everyone at the House “adopt you.” They provided so much, from delicious home-cooked meals to fabulous desserts that I will have to run many miles now to remove the effects on my waist. But most importantly, they provided love.
The Ronald McDonald House labels itself as “The House That Love Built”. While I would agree that it was every donor’s love and caring that built it, I would add that the House is also “held up by Love.”
From staff to volunteers, there is a constant outpouring of genuine love and concern for each family. They were there to share in Cory’s triumphs and offer a shoulder to lean on when we were feeling down. Together, with other House families, we rejoiced at hearing the news that one family’s child had gained two ounces (Go Logan!), another child’s PET scans came back clean and rather than taking a few steps, our son walked 30 yards!
Prior to coming to the House, I had always thrown my change in the McDonald’s® donation boxes and purchased through local fundraising efforts for the Utah chapter.
My perception of Ronald McDonald House Charities and Ronald McDonald Houses was that they were there for families with children fighting cancer. We have come to realize that they are here for so much more.
The House is not just a place where a child and their family can stay during medical treatment. It is a home away from home, where you can find someone who cares about you and loves you during a very traumatic time. You will develop friendships with other families who are there. You will share in their victories and will cry with them during their challenges.
What I found so unbelievable was how comforting such simplicity could be. We were able to take comfort in a private bedroom, access the laundry facility, enjoy hot meals (and desserts to die for!) and take a break in front of the big screen TV. All of these comforts could not be found if we had stayed at a hotel.
The convenience of being right across the street from Memorial University Medical Hospital made it possible to come and go more frequently than if we had to get in the car and drive back to a hotel.
I know in the future, our family will be donating much more than just spare change and an occasional sticker purchase for both the charity in Utah and in Savannah. Ronald McDonald House Charities has great needs that can only be met with wonderful donors like all of us.
Whether you can volunteer a few hours to help provide a meal, or make a financial contribution, know that what the staff and volunteers do is so appreciated by those that receive it. There is no way that we could have gotten through this ordeal without the help, and the love of the House staff and volunteers.
Thank you so much, to so many. You have touched our lives in a way that will never be forgotten. We are better people for the compassionate examples that we witnessed every day.