Meet Sabryna and River
“When River was born we knew about her heart murmur and that she would eventually require surgery a few years down the road. But at just one month old she caught RSV and everything changed for our family. We started at our local hospital in Kapuskasing but they are quite small and decided we should be in Timmins for treatment. Soon River’s condition outpaced the level of care they were able to provide, and we needed to get to CHEO quickly. But I had no time to plan anything, so it was my sister-in-law who called me as I was getting on the plane for Ottawa and told me she found us a place to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. We had no idea that those next few nights would turn into 63 days and counting at the House.”
It was decided that River would have her heart surgery during this stay at CHEO but it took time for her to get well, and many weeks to finally have surgery due to the influx of patients with RSV, Covid and Influenza. Thankfully in early January, River received her heart surgery and has done wonderfully ever since.
“Honestly, you don’t know how to fully explain how special the Ronald McDonald House is until you’ve been there. It feels like a bright light after everything you’ve been through each day. You come in, you’re finally able to relax for a moment, you feel welcome, and you’re surrounded by people who are all going through it too. There is no judgment.”
When asked what meant the most during their stay, Sabryna shared that the home cooking provided by RMHCO has left a lasting impact. “Sometimes you don’t have time to think about eating; you have zero energy when you get back from the hospital and don’t think about making anything. And then you walk into the kitchen, and there is food that has been prepared and meals are waiting for every family. It makes you feel at home.” This is done through the Meals That Heal program, with contributions from volunteers who come in to cook as well as donations by local meal prep organizations.
As Sabryna and River are getting ready to head home to Kapuskasing later this week, they have been joined for almost the last 8 weeks by Sabryna’s mom Diane. Diane has become a familiar face to staff and guests, spending lots of time in the RMHCO kitchen cooking and baking. Yesterday as the mother & daughter duo baked dozens of cupcakes as a thank you to the House, Diane expressed her heartfelt gratitude, “there are no words to describe what this house has meant to us, and what it means to families in need”. Baby River looked on peacefully and intently as the two generations of strong women ahead of her lovingly baked and spent quality time together. As they prepare to turn the page on their RMHCO story, we are so grateful they shared their time and experience with our community.