Billie and Ryan give back to RMHCA
Billie and her 13-year-old son, Ryan, were first introduced to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (RMHCA) in 2010. Ryan was receiving care at Children’s of Alabama after being ejected from a car in Montgomery. After a sleepless night in the waiting room, the family’s social worker was made aware of Ryan’s situation and helped arrange a room at RMHCA for the family. Billie describes the House as being her refuge during this stressful time in Ryan’s life.
Billie and Ryan’s second stay at RMHCA was in 2013 when Ryan was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis, a rare blood vessel disease. After Ryan was discharged, Billie and her son stayed at RMHCA, giving them easy access to Ryan’s appointments at Children’s of Alabama. Billie says the relationships she and her son made at RMHCA were most meaningful to her.
“I remember going to the front desk and looking for Erin because I had nothing but free time,” Billie says. “We would just sit at the front desk and talk.”
Billie says that RMHCA Director of Family Programming, April Dickerson, was a great source of information for her during her stay.
“She was also instrumental in making certain I was aware of resources that were available to residents in the house. For example, Ryan and I attended the Barnum and Bailey Circus amongst other local attractions where we always enjoyed ourselves. She provided somewhat of a kindred spirit and comfort in dealing with our set of circumstances,” Billie said.
RMHCA provided Billie and Ryan with a full refrigerator, easy access to the hospital, and a comfortable room to get away in. These amenities allowed Billie and Ryan to come back to a place that felt like their own home after a long day in the hospital. Billie and Ryan were also able to attend many social events put on by RMHCA, including going to the Baron’s baseball game, the zoo, and the McWane Science Center. These outings put on by RMHCA serve as a way to keep families close during their time in the hospital.
“I never thought we would be at the Ronald McDonald House for any reason because my children were born [without health issues],” Billie explains. “I have told my story so many times just to tell people how well it worked out for us.”
After Billie and Ryan’s experience at RMHCA, Billie took every opportunity to give back to the House. She created a walkathon event through her church, the People of God Community Church, raising money through exercise and fitness activities. Billie gives all the money made through registration fees and fundraising challenges back to RMHCA. Members who attend the walkathon get to participate in a walk for charity, Zumba, and enjoy healthy food and drink options. Last year, Billie’s walkaton raised $1,142.50 for RMHCA.
Billie explains that the walkathon is a great way for people to come together and support RMHCA. Billie says some people who attend the event have been directly impacted by the organization and others simply come to support the mission. The event encourages people to take care of themselves, exercise, and support local charities. Billie’s church has held two walkathons since she and Ryan have stayed in the hospital, and plan to continue.
“Leaving was a bittersweet situation,” Billie explains, “because we didn’t want to leave the House, but we did because Ryan was finally well.”
It gives RMHCA great joy that we have made our families hospital experiences a little bit brighter. Thank you, Billie, for sharing Ryan’s story with us and for supporting our families through your walkathon!