We love the holidays. And our family has a very special holiday tradition that we’d like to invite you to join in with us. All year long we collect pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, and each year around Christmas we take the pop tabs we’ve collected in to “our” Ronald McDonald House. Starting in 2016 we will have a collection jar at the lodge and invite you to save your pop tabs and bring them up to the lodge. Why do we do this? Well…
Here is a picture of our son Brock on his 4th day alive. Notice all the wires coming out of his blankets. He had just come out of his first heart surgery. Brock was born with pulmonary valve stenosis. Meaning, his pulmonary valve wasn’t open. We had no idea he had a heart condition, and a few hours after he was born he gave us and the doctors a good scare. Babies in utero have an extra duct open to allow oxygenated blood to circulate more easily. That valve closes shortly after birth. As his valve closed, his heart wasn’t able to function and he nearly died. He was saved by a nurse who happened to be standing near him when he stopped breathing and changed color. He was revived and life flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. There he was sent into surgery for a balloon valvotomy surgery. Here is the room where they performed surgery.
That surgery opened up his heart so it could function on its own but didn’t open it as much as the doctors had hoped. 3 months later he had a second surgery which was very successful. We are very grateful for modern medicine and that our sweet Brock is not only with us today, but is a happy and healthy kid. During Brock’s first couple of weeks he was kept in a cardiac intensive care unit for newborns. This was extremely stressful for both of his parents. We felt utterly helpless and useless except to pray for him. However, we also had a beautiful 3 year old little girl, Ady, who needed her mom and dad. We would not have kept it together during this time if it weren’t for the prayers of those around us as well as the help we received from the Ronald McDonald House. We had only been at Primary Children’s Hospital for an hour when a very nice woman from the Ronald McDonald House approached us and said she had heard our story and wanted to invite us to stay with them. Neither of us knew anything about the Ronald McDonald House prior to this event. She explained that the Ronald McDonald House is a charity established to help families who have loved ones in the hospital and give families a place to stay near those they are caring for. Even though we wanted to stay there at Brock’s side while he was in the hospital, the nice people at the Ronald McDonald House knew that we needed to get out of the hospital occasionally. And they know that food and a place to sleep are not something you prioritize when you are worried about a loved one. Not only did they provide a place for us to sleep close to the hospital, rather than having to make the hour plus drive to a family member’s home, but they also provided meals and invited us to bring our daughter to stay with us. They knew that we would need her during this time and she needed us. Every day many friendly faces greeted us and helped to lift our spirits. They went out of their way to not just house and feed us, but to let us know they cared. They encouraged us to get out and do things with Ady. They arranged for us to go do things as a family such as go to the zoo or take in a local NBA basketball game. So many people who were complete strangers to us, took time to help us, and in their own way shouldered part of our burden.
As much as we believe the marvels of modern medicine and skilled doctors got Brock through his ordeal, the wonderful people at the Ronald McDonald House got us through it. When we left the Ronald McDonald House and were finally able to take our baby home we stood there and with tears in our eyes and thanked the people there. We knew we couldn’t do enough to show our gratitude to the strangers who had welcomed us in and lifted our spirits. We asked them how we could give back someday and they encouraged us to collect pop tabs and bring them in so they can sell them to a recycling center. Ever since then we have tried to collect the pop tabs from every aluminum can we cross. We’ve invited family and friends to collect with us. They will collect a few and give them to anyone in our family, and then once a year we take our collection in to that same Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City and turn them in. Each time we do this we are reminded of those who were an answer to our prayers and share our story with our children. It has become a tradition for our family and we invite you to join with us. Here is our photo from this year’s collection.
Our family will be collecting pop tabs all summer at Birch Forest Lodge. If you would like to join with us in this holiday tradition we invite you to bring your pop tabs to us and we will see that they are turned into “our” Ronald McDonald House.