Seven-month old Abigail is a happy, joyful baby. But, her mom Ashley noticed that her youngest baby girl was not growing and meeting the same milestones that had been typical of her three older sisters. After a visit to their pediatrician, Abigail was referred to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The hospital was located over an hour-and-a-half drive from their family’s home in Broadnax, Virginia.
“After our first visit, we were scheduled for several diagnostic tests and genetic tests to help diagnose Abigail. She would begin ongoing therapy appointments specific to her, yet undetermined, condition. I wasn’t quite sure how we were going to manage getting back and forth to regular appointments in Richmond while also caring for Abigail’s three older sisters,” says Ashley.
Ashley’s husband Jason began missing work to provide care for the older girls at home. “The missed work, accommodations, travel, and meals at the hospital began to really add up and become a financial burden.”
That’s when their family learned about Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond. Ashley and the girls were able to stay at the House, located just a few miles from the hospital where Abigail had her appointments. “We felt welcome and like we were right at home.”
At the hospital, the family was able to utilize the Lunches with Love program where meals are provided at no charge for families with children receiving medical care.
“The staff went above and beyond to care for our family and make our lives a little easier and feel more normal. We even became close with other families staying at the House, even though we were all there for different reasons. I celebrated my birthday during our stay and there was a gift for me, a cake, and a homemade breakfast. It was all put together by the staff and another mom at the House. It was so thoughtful.”
Abigail was diagnosed with low muscle tone but with the help of a feeding tube and regular therapy appointments, was growing and getting stronger day by day. After a month long stay in Richmond, Ashley and her girls were able to return home to Broadnax. Life has gotten back into a more normal routine but Ashley remembers their time in Richmond fondly, “The Ronald McDonald House became our home-away-from-home.”