Family Stories

Aimee Cowher

Aimee Cowher’s – A Mother’s Story of Courage and Love:

Recently, I had the privilege to address the Board of Directors about my experience at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. That meeting began with this question:

“What one word describes what ‘the house’ does for its guests?” For me, that answer came to mind instantly: HOME

The Ronald McDonald House is not just a house where we had a bedroom to catch a few ZZZs, a bathroom to shower and awaken our exhausted senses, and a shelf in a refrigerator to grab a bite to eat on the run. The Ronald McDonald House is a place where we often enjoyed home-cooked dinners sitting together as a family, where my (then) 9-month old daughter had fun playing, where we were always greeted by the staff with kindness and concern and where we could steal just a few minutes to relax and feel just a little bit normal during a time that was anything but.

The Ronald McDonald House was our HOME for 7 weeks starting August 21, 2004 when my son, Kyle, suffered cardiac arrest caused by a heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The 25 minutes that it took to resuscitate him caused an anoxic brain injury and a spindle coma. It only took a few days to realize this wasn’t like the movies where people just “wake up” and we had no idea how long he would be hospitalized in order to rehabilitate.

The first night that Kyle was in PICU, my husband “slept” in a chair in the waiting room, which back then prior to the renovation was about 10’x10′ with maybe 10 chairs. Our 9-month old daughter, Abi, slept in her infant car seat. The next day, someone suggested to Gary that we inquire about a room at the Ronald McDonald House, which he secured for $10/night. That is still the cost to resident families.

We were committed to being with Kyle round-the-clock as he was rehabilitating. Most nights following dinner together, Gary would get Abi to sleep at The House at trying to catch a few ZZZs. I would stay with Kyle until midnight, or 1am or 2am, depending on when it seemed like he was restful and then call Gary to let him know I was on my way HOME. We learned the short cut thru the ER and after exchanging high-5 and a hug in the bedroom doorway, Gary would be in Kyle’s hospital room with no more than 5 minutes having passed. After a few hours of sleep and a shower, Abi and I would head back to the hospital by 7am for breakfast with Kyle.

As Kyle’s recovery progressed, we were allowed to bring him HOME for dinner. I still remember the first time, sitting around one of the dining room tables as a family, including my parents, enjoying a home cooked meal provided by one of the many volunteer organizations, laughing and smiling, feeling just a little bit normal. Eventually, we were able to spend a few hours each night in the comfort of the rec room watching a movie together.

Kyle’s recovery defied all medical expectations. I truly believe that being with him round-the-clock made all the difference. And making the Ronald McDonald House our HOME made that possible. And your donations to this wonderful house make it possible for all the resident families. Thank you to all who have given and continue to donate your time and financial support. Please remember the House this spring by making a generous donation. Families like ours, really appreciate your support.

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