WICHITA, Kansas — When a child or family member is faced with a serious illness, their treatment can often take them far from home.
That can leave family members with few and often costly options of places to stay.
The Ronald McDonald house can step in and not only provide that place but they make it comfortable, too.
It made all the difference for one Wichita family that had a newborn with a serious heart defect.
Two year-old Grace likes to sing and she likes to color.
She’s your average toddler who is looking forward to her birthday in October.
Getting to this point took nearly a 3-year journey, starting when her mom Mary was just 19 weeks pregnant.
That’s when Grace was diagnosed with an abnormally rapid heart beat.
Doctors say her heart beat at 220 beats per minute.
That’s 80 beats each minute faster than what it should have been.
“That moment changed our lives. Up until now even,” explains Grace’s mom, Mary Kroupa.
Right after Grace was born here in Wichita she was quickly flown to Kansas City, where she would need specialized treatment for more than a month.
“Where you guys might sleep? And I remember thinking, ‘Oh yeah! We’ll be in a different town, we can’t sleep at home’,” remembers Grace’s dad Kale Kroupa.
That’s when the Kroupas first heard about Ronald McDonald House.
“Comfy beds, living rooms where I could just go cry because you know emotionally you’re handling this huge burden. Your child is hooked up to all these monitors and you don’t know what the doctors are saying,” says Mary.
All the comforts of home with the Kroupas during their stay in Kansas City.
Families pay based on their ability and no one is ever turned away.
“The last thing you’re thinking of is where are you going to stay? And not only have a place to stay but have it not feel like an institutional hospital if you will. It felt like home,” says Kale.
Mary adds, “You really do start to feel like the people there are family, you know pray for each other, fight for each other, encouraging each other. It’s a really unique situation to be in when you have a small child that has a life threatening illness or defect that they have to stay in a special place away from mom and dad.”
After two years of managing her heart rate with medicine and frequent stays at the Ronald McDonald house, last November grace had one last surgery to try and fix her heart.
“She did beautifully,” smiles Mary. “She’s totally healed and she’s had no evidence of any heart problems since.”
Now a very grateful mom and dad go out of their way to give back to the organization that gave them so much.
“This charity in particular is for everyone. Anyone at any moment could use it because you don’t know ever when you’re gonna have a child in a situation like we had,” says Kale.
We are fortunate to have two Ronald McDonald homes here in Wichita and they are always looking for volunteers to help make meals or donations of supplies.
If you’re interested in supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Wichita, click here.