The sign over the front entranceway to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio reads, The House That Love Built. It’s a sentiment that Angela Jones has come to understand, since she and her family came to stay, just two days after a car accident almost claimed the life of her oldest child, Walter Tates.
Positioned behind the driver’s seat, with his seat belt on, but with his arm slipped through the shoulder strap, eleven-year-old Walter sustained life threatening injuries. He was airlifted to Children’s Hospital and placed in the pediatric intensive care unit. Angela, her two other children and her brother, Anthony, spent the next two nights sleeping on the floor of Walter’s hospital room.
Living in Waverly, Ohio – an hour away from the hospital – they needed a way to remain by Walter’s side. Children’s Hospital directed them across the road, to the Ronald McDonald House. “We didn’t know anything about the house,” said Anthony. “We had no idea how nice it would be.”
Nor did they know how long they would have to stay. Over the next 60 days, with damage to his bladder, kidneys, intestines, a break in his lumbar and a crushed leg artery, Walter would undergo 12 major surgeries – one being to amputate his shattered leg.
Angela and Anthony credit the RMHC staff and volunteers, as well as the other families staying at the House, with helping them to remain positive in the face of such adversity. “It’s comforting to have someone to listen to you and to tell you to keep your hopes up high,” said Angela. “They reminded us to keep holding on and to not let go.”
“The Ronald McDonald House has been amazing,” said Anthony. “Diane Byrd has made sure we have everything and anything we need. What’s more amazing, is I’ve come to find how much company dollars really matter.”
Through corporate and private donations, the Ronald McDonald House Charities have created an atmosphere of home, for families in times of need. After a long day at the hospital, Angela found the outdoor garden pool helped instill a sense of calm. With Angela by Walter’s bedside most of the day, Anthony, along with his wife, Valerie, focused on caring for their three-year-old niece and ten-year-old nephew. “The art and game rooms, here at the House, have been great for the kids,” said Anthony, recognizing that even children need a break from the stress of uncertainty.
An added sense of comfort has come from the medical staff at Children’s Hospital. “The nurses have become like family and the doctors are so personable,” said Anthony. They too understand what Angela and her family are going through and have rallied around Walter’s fight for life.
It has now been three months since the accident, and Walter has been moved to rehabilitation. Angela and her sister-in-law, Valerie, now alternate staying at the House, while keeping a watchful eye on Walter’s progress. Before the accident, Angela would send her children off to school with a positive message – This is our can do day.
Thanks to The House That Love Built, future families may find the sense of hope that Angela Jones and her family found here and come to echo her can do message.
Article originally appeared in the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio newsletter.