Starlight Children’s Foundation is proud to partner with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) across the country to help provide families support and comfort during difficult times. During National Caregivers Month, we want to spotlight Jaye Toler, Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House in Huntington, WV, and her personal experience with RMHC.
When I was 11 years old, my brother was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor (pediatric kidney cancer) at nine months old. He received life-saving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where the first Ronald McDonald House was built.
I think being the older sibling of a sick kid shaped my life. I still see things through that lens 30 years later.
At Ronald McDonald House, our mission is to support sick children—and also their siblings. It’s a difficult chapter for a family. Time and again, I hear older siblings say the same thing I said, “Why couldn’t it be me that’s sick?”
I remember going with my mom to take my brother for a blood draw. I remember crying and begging for the nurse to take it from my arm. I was old enough to know that wasn’t possible, but I did it all the same.
Now imagine being a mom or dad or a grandparent. You’re trying to be strong for the sick child, not neglect his siblings, keep some semblance of normal and calm, all while internally, you’re full-blown panicking. We meet families while they’re facing their worst nightmare.
At Ronald McDonald House, it’s our job to subtract worry. It’s our job to make sure they have a free place to stay, with a cozy room, meals, toiletries, etc. We want them to focus entirely on getting their child healthy.
That’s where donors like Starlight help us.
Starlight Deliveries, which include toys, art supplies, and more, can cheer up the gloomiest day for these kids.
Starlight Gaming stations and Starlight Virtual Reality headsets allow kids to forget about a bad day and have fun in the comfort of “home.”
Ronald McDonald Houses are built to be as sibling-friendly as they are sick-child-friendly. It's not unusual for the whole family to be at Ronald McDonald House or for siblings to visit on the weekends.
With the help of donors like Starlight, we can help bring fun and comfort to these families in their time of need.
Learn how Starlight Programs provide a sense of normalcy for seriously ill kids like Jaye’s brother.