April: Mission Accomplished!
At just four months old, Ally Ruedas was diagnosed with Epilepsy. Her tiny body had endured so many seizures that she was having trouble developing, eating, and meeting normal milestones. To help her receive necessary nutrients from food, Doctors inserted a g tube into Ally’s stomach. On top of ongoing concerns about her daughter’s health, Ally’s mom worried that her daughter would never be able to eat food by mouth.
At age 3, Ally was enrolled in the Feeding Therapy Program at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The program would help Ally overcome her feeding issues and develop healthy habits. The six-week-long program, located in Richmond, was nearly two hours away from her family’s home in Woodbridge, Virginia. The drive back and forth every day would be expensive and also tiring and strenuous on Ally and on her mom. A hotel room in Richmond for six weeks would cost thousands of dollars. The hospital presented their family with a third option that met all of their needs, Richmond’s Ronald McDonald House.
At the Ronald McDonald House, Ally and her mom were given a private guest room and all of the comforts of home just two miles from the Feeding Clinic. They shared the house’s communal spaces with other families on medical journeys with their children. “My favorite part of staying here was getting to talk to the other families and develop relationships that will last beyond our stay. The staff was really easy to talk to and the volunteers hosted spa nights, movie nights, and cupcake decorating activities that were really fun and made me feel very welcome and comfortable,” says Ally’s mom.
The Ronald McDonald House allowed Ally and her mom to focus on their therapy sessions without having to worry about travel, meals, or other daily chores. During the program, Ally’s mom received the wonderful news that Ally would be able to eat food by mouth. The clinic taught Ally how to eat and now Ally’s mom is following the methods she learned at the clinic to feed Ally at home. “I was anxious about coming to Richmond and being away from our family for six weeks. But, finding out Ally could eat was such a relief. The entire experience from the clinic visits to our stay at the Ronald McDonald House was great.”