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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Home away from home marks milestone

Ronald McDonald House’s 30th birthday wish is simple.

The vital home away from home hopes it can continue helping families in need for at least another three decades.

Since opening its doors in Newcastle in April 1991, Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW has been providing families with seriously ill children a safe place to stay during their darkest days.

Some of its earliest guests were Ben and his family.

At just two years old he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, forcing them to uproot their lives from New England to Newcastle for him to receive treatment.

Seven years later his tumour changed, meaning the family had to return to the Hunter and stay with Ronald McDonald House again while he received emergency surgery.

Even though it was a scary time, Ben defied the odds and celebrated his 30th birthday this year with the charity.

“Ronald McDonald House Charities came through like family,” his mum Leanne said.

“They supported us when we needed it the most. We will never forget that.”

Over recent months the charity has also been home to Elizabeth and her mum Sharon.

When she was 14 months old Elizabeth was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, meaning she needed urgent medical care.

Being more than five hours away from their family in Brisbane has made it one of the hardest times of their lives.

“The staff and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House are life-savers,” Sharon said.

“They are my fill in family who have created a warm, loving and caring environment for Elizabeth and me to come ‘home’ to every day.”

14-month-old Elizabeth and her mother, Sharon.

CEO Ross Bingham says the Newcastle House provides support to more than 600 families each year.

“Over 30 years, tens of thousands of feet have walked the corridors of the House, back and forth from the hospital to the sanctuary of the House and the comfort of their room – day and night,” he said.

“Doors and arms have been opened, welcoming smiles and words providing calm in the chaos.”

To help make the charity’s wish come true, Ronald McDonald House is asking the community to purchase a Helping Heart online.

The funds raised will go towards improving its facilities to help families across the region.

“Ronald McDonald House Charities has only been able to continue with the help of families, supporters and generous donors over the past three decades,” Ross said.

Go to the Ronald McDonald House website to purchase a Helping Heart.

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