Family Story: Graysons find much needed rest and peace
Ronald McDonald House families travel the furthest for care and spend the longest time in the hospital. Every three weeks for more than a year, the Grayson family has made the five-hour trip from Mobile to Birmingham for Jarvas Jr.’s care.
Jarvas, 16, lives with sickle cell disease, diabetes and a vascular disorder called Moyamoya disease. All of these conditions take a toll on Jarvas without the stress of traveling, so having the Ronald McDonald House just one block from his doctors at Children’s of Alabama makes a huge difference.
“My favorite place in the House is my room. I can rest and play Xbox,” Jarvas said.
“But that means no TV for mom!” his mother, Ivokisha, jokes.
The treatments Jarvas undergoes for sickle cell aren’t easy to take, even with the support of his parents and younger sister, Jarita, who have all been able to stay with him at the Ronald McDonald House over the many visits.
“I’m always really tired after going to my doctor’s appointments,” he says. “Being here means I can rest. And when you’re hungry, you have something to eat. It’s great.”
The Graysons say being with other families helps them too.
“Seeing other kids helps me. Back home, there are people that point and laugh and when I’m up here I feel comfortable. The kids are just like me,” Jarvas said.
“I’m meeting young parents that are just starting to go through what I went through. I see myself in those parents and I want to help. That’s one of my prayers. I thank God for blessing me so I can bless someone else,” Ivokisha said.
Sharing stories and seeing other children with the same conditions can bring hope to others, according to Ivokisha.
“People hear everything that Jarvas has going on and he just keeps going. We take every day and that’s important for them to see too,” Ivokisha said.
For the immediate future, Jarvas will continue to travel to Birmingham for his care and Ivokisha says knowing they have the Ronald McDonald House helps financially and mentally. She has had to stop working in order to take care of Jarvas full time.
“There would be so many difficulties because we’re coming from Mobile. Having to come every 3 weeks, it’s tough. But what they’re offering better doctors here in Birmingham so it’s a blessing to have the House. I don’t even want to think about what I’d have to do without the Ronald McDonald House,” Ivokisha said.
As for the emotional well-being of the family, Jarvas listed off all the activities he’s been able to do.
“I’ve made a pillow, that was fun. I went to the McWane Center three times. I’ve been to the zoo,” Jarvas said.
The Graysons hope that the community will continue to support RMHCA.
“Do it because it helps everybody that’s here, all the sick kids. The donations and meals help in so many ways,” Jarvas said.
“For people that haven’t ever been to a Ronald McDonald House, I would suggest they come take a tour! That would help people a lot to see the families they can help,” Ivokisha said.