Three-year-old Andre McDonald of Vernon recently underwent heart surgery at B.C. Children’s Hospital and thanks to Ronald McDonald House his family was afforded the chance to be there with him.

Three-year-old Andre McDonald of Vernon recently underwent heart surgery at B.C. Children’s Hospital and thanks to Ronald McDonald House his family was afforded the chance to be there with him.

Family benefits from program

Having the Ronald McDonald House made such a difference in this family’s difficult journey

As a single mom of three busy boys, when Abby McDonald isn’t caring for her family, she is working to support them.

She works so hard, in fact, that since starting at McDonald’s Restaurant five years ago, she has made her way to the top as general manager.

But it’s not just the paycheque and discounted Happy Meals that McDonald loves about her job. The fact that McDonald’s serves a substantial amount of support to families whose children are facing tough medical challenges through Ronald McDonald House, makes her proud to work there.

Families just like hers.

McDonald’s youngest son, Andre Lingao McDonald, three, recently underwent his second heart surgery at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

The surgeries are to correct a heart defect, detected when Abby was just five months pregnant with Andre.

His first surgery took place in September 2011, followed by the second this past April.

Having the Ronald McDonald House made such a difference in this family’s difficult journey, allowing Abby to just focus on her family and not worry about anything else.

“All I want is to take care of Andre while at Ronald McDonald House, be ready for his surgery, spend more time with him and convince myself that everything will be OK,” said Abby.

Thanks to all the volunteers who cook dinner for 60 to 80 people each day, she was able to do just that.

“Every child with medical condition can enjoy their stay at the house because they provide the needs of the families,” said Abby.

Calling it a “home away from home,” Abby explains how close everyone is, despite not knowing each other.

“It’s like everyone is giving you a hug making you feel that, ‘we are here to support you and your family.’ We who stay at the Ronald McDonald House can honestly feel the other person’s pain or joy because we become close and we are in similar situations.

“The Ronald McDonald House has touched my heart forever. I’m so grateful to all of the people who comfort us. People who do things out of love will surely be blessed!”

It’s a blessing, said Abby, for families like hers outside of the Greater Vancouver area.

“Without the house, I would probably be paying hotel bills, worry about dinner bills, eat take out meals, travel and drive everyday instead of walking four to five minutes to see our doctors.”

Abby is now happy to say that Andre is doing well and the entire family is grateful for the Ronald McDonald House and all the people who donate to give families like hers such an amazing place to be during such a frightening time.