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Ronald McDonald House providing even more rooms and warmth for young patients

the shannons photo 3 28 e1553802700193 Photo by Kelly White

Betsy Shannon and her son, Connor, 3, and daughter, Lucy, 5, were in attendance at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 19. Shannon stayed at the house from May 2017 to September 2017 while Lucy was hospitalized at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

By Kelly White

Ronald McDonald House Charities strives to improve the health and well-being of children all while keeping families together.

“They have always been here for my family,” said Betsy Shannon, of Lombard.

Shannon’s daughter, Lucy, has hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. At the age of 5, Lucy has already undergone nine heart surgeries and a heart transplant in August of 2018.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI), 4410 W. 93rd St., Oak Lawn, near Advocate Children’s Hospital, made it possible for Lucy’s family to be close by.

On March 15, RMHC-CNI held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for five new guest bedrooms for family stays while children, like Lucy, are hospitalized. Lucy joined AbbVie representatives, RMHC-CNI families, volunteers, supporters and staff members and Advocate Children’s Hospital staff during the unveiling and cut the ribbon with the help of her mother.

The expansion was made possible thanks to a donation from AbbVie, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company headquartered in North Chicago. Founded in 2013, AbbVie is a descendant of American health care company, Abbott Laboratories.

“This is such an important milestone for Ronald McDonald House Charities and Advocate Children’s Hospital,” said Melissa Walsh, vice president of Corporate Responsibility and Global Philanthropy at AbbVie. “Giving back is part of our corporate identity and part of who we are. We are unbelievably proud to stand here with you today.”

Non-profit organization, Ronald McDonald House Charities received a record-breaking donation from AbbVie in the amount of $100 million. Through this donation, local Chicago chapter RMHC-CNI was selected as one of the 32 locations to receive a portion of this gift, which has been used to create more guest rooms for overnight stays and provide 5,475 additional family nights for pediatric patients and their families each year.

Ronald McDonald Houses take pride in keeping families close to the care and resources they need. Allowing families to stay close to their hospitalized child supports the child’s health and well-being while saving families valuable time and money that would potentially be used on hotel or travel costs instead.

The expansion of the house ensures that RMCH-CNI will be able to keep even more families close during the most difficult times when a child is sick, so families can take on the endeavor for wellness together.

“We are very excited to partner with RMHC-CNI to serve families that entrust their children in our care,” said Barbara Perino, chief operating officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “It’s wonderful to have this house and this team right across the street from our children’s hospital.”

The expansion took place from October of 2018 until March of 2019, and includes five new bedroom suites are approximately 320 square feet each that are comprised of sleeping accommodations for up to four family members, a private bath, and a desk area. Each are decorated to represent a season of the year (blue for winter, green for spring, a sandy color for summer, and brown for fall), which is consistent with the mood of the facilities existing 16 bedrooms.

Ronald McDonald Houses are located near Advocate Children’s Hospital, Loyola University Medical Center, UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago,Edward Hospital in Naperville and Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

A reception was held on March 19 for AbbVie representatives, RMHC-CNI families, volunteers, supporters and staff members and Advocate Children’s Hospital staff after the unveiling of the five completed bedrooms at RMHC-CNI, along with a reconfigured kitchen and expanded dining spaces for family use during stays.

Speaking at the event were Holly Buckendahl, chief executive officer, RMHC-CNI; Barbara Perino, COO, Advocate Children’s Hospital; Melissa Walsh, vice president of Corporate Responsibility and Global Philanthropy, AbbVie; and Kevin Ozan, CFO of McDonalds and board chair, RMHC-CNI.

“This is the 10th year of this house; it has really been quite a year,” Buckendahl said.

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