(Alice Ferris said I should share this moment/memory as a blog. Deep breath...here you go.)
The CEO at a Canadian Ronald McDonald House invited me to connect via LinkedIn. I shared the following story.
Larry, Thanks for connecting. I don't know if you knew it but I have a personal connection with the Ronald McDonald House. I spent the first week of my daughter's life, including Thanksgiving living at a Ronald McDonald House in 1986.
The day after my daughter was born I left Arizona for an 8 hour drive to Colorado to start a new job at a radio station that had been delaying my start date because my daughter was "late." This was "pre-cellphones." When I arrived in Colorado they told me to call home because my (ex)wife was trying to reach me. When I called the hospital, they refused to release any information because we weren't married. I finally reached our roommate who explained my ex had rushed into our apartment with a nurse, grabbed some clothes and rushed out explaining our daughter was being helicoptered to Phoenix 4 hours away.
I jumped back in my truck and drove the 8 + 4 hours to Phoenix. I arrived in Phoenix after more than 20 hours behind the wheel and again was being blocked from receiving information or entering the intensive care unit because we weren't married and my name wasn't on my daughter's birth certificate. As I was pleading my case, my ex emerged from an elevator stooped and beaten down by stress and fear. She collapsed crying in my arms, gushing everything that had happened through her tears.
My daughter had ingested "things" while being born and this may have been what caused her breathing to stop periodically. She was in a ward with so many very, very sick children. It was a terrifying ordeal.
I got to meet former McDonald's CEO, Ed Renzi last October when he presented in Pittsburgh, PA for an AFP Fundraising Leadership Conference. When he told the story of how he approved giving all of the profits from the "Shamrock Shake" to support creation of the 1st Ronald McDonald House, I had to thank him. He asked our 400 attendees for questions, I made my way to the microphone and thanked him for helping give families like mine a little normalcy and comfort in the most difficult time of their lives. I thanked him and the Ronald McDonald Houses for making sure we didn't have to spend our nights sleeping in chairs or on the floor to be near our loved ones in their time of need. When I offered my hand, he pulled me on stage for a hug. He later had me pulled from the crowd to find out more about my experience and how my daughter was doing. She's an intelligent, beautiful and healthy 27 year old prison guard in Phoenix, Arizona.
Thank you and your team for the work you do. You make an excruciatingly stressful time a little more bearable for families like mine.
Jim Anderson (a grateful father)