Family Testimonials & Profiles
The Connolly Family Story
In early 2018, Peter and Marissa Connolly of Branson, Missouri were expecting identical twin boys, Finn and Jack, due in August. Sadly, they lost Finn in April; and this triggered premature labor for Marissa. Then, after three weeks of bedrest for Marissa, Jack was born over 16 weeks early on May 6, 2018, weighing only 1 lb, 13 oz.
At the beginning of Marissa’s hospital stay, Ronald McDonald House Happy Wheels volunteers shared information about the House. She didn’t realize it was a “home-away- from-home” for families. Peter toured the House and felt comfortable right away. It was the perfect place for their 3-year-old daughter Adalyn to take a break from the hospital, burning energy in the playroom and playground, and taking some great naps. The House also provided a place for Marissa and Peter’s parents to stay while visiting from out of state to help care for Adalyn.
The Connolly family counts the Ronald McDonald House as an incredible blessing. After spending 100+ days with Jack in the NICU, they are thankful to end each day with a homemade meal and a comfy bed in close proximity to Jack. During their stay at the House, Adalyn celebrated her 4th birthday. The Ronald McDonald House team was happy to host her birthday party, inviting special guests like Jack’s NICU doctor and nurses at Adalyn’s request. During their long stay, the Ronald McDonald House provided comfort to each member of the Connolly family. For Peter, Marissa and Adalyn, it’s truly served as a “home-away-from-home”. For baby Jack, it allowed his family to stay close. The House enabled his Mom to devote her attention to caring for his needs, and allowed Jack to build a flourishing relationship with his big sister Adalyn and his grandparents.
The Mueller Family Story
In June 2016, the Mueller family, of Hermann, Missouri, was enjoying their favorite pastime. Mike and Michelle, along with daughters Elizabeth and Melanie, love to go on camping trips together. During a night of camping at Bennett Springs Park, Michelle suffered cardiac arrest. Fortunately, her husband Mike is an experienced EMT and administered CPR immediately, continuing until a first-responder arrived with an AED. Michelle was life-flighted to Springfield, and Bethany was delivered by emergency c-section 100 days before her due date. After Michelle recovered, she joined her family to stay in the Ronald McDonald House. While Bethany’s 98-day stay in the NICU was a roller coaster of hope, setbacks, joy and fear, having her family close helped her grow and strengthen. Being close allowed the family to help Bethany achieve vital milestones like learning to swallow and eat. Now, Bethany is a happy, active one-year old who enjoys giggling with her big sisters and camping trips with her family. Whether at home in Hermann, camping in a tent or during their summer at the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield, together is the Mueller family’s favorite place to be.
For the Mueller family, Ronald McDonald House was better than home. It kept their family together. It kept them close to Bethany, born 100 days premature. It allowed them to stay just steps away, instead of miles and hours away. It allowed the Mueller family to fully support Bethany as she developed and grew stronger, making her stay in the NICU shorter and smoother.
Julie & Mark Phelps’ Story
Our daughter Anastasia was born with hydrocephalus and was diagnosed with a debilitating and fatal disease, Dandy-Walker Syndrome. I was discharged from the hospital as a massive snowstorm hit so my husband and I could not get home. We were separated from friends and family at Christmas and we did not know what our daughter’s fate would be. The Ronald McDonald House became our home for the holidays. We will never forget the profound kindness that was extended to us. I awoke on Christmas morning to see my baby’s first Christmas gifts ever sitting under the house’s tree. My daughter had been diagnosed with a fatal illness and I wondered if these gifts would be her last. Our lives are forever changed by the love extended to us from strangers. Imagine our relief when we learned the fatal disease was a misdiagnosis and the hydrocephalus healed on its own. Thanks to the Ronald McDonald House for adding to our Christmas miracle and profoundly impacting the rest of our lives.
Mark and Julia Phelps
Wayne & Michella Seawright’s Story
Our 18-year-old son Brandon was in a swimming accident while camping. He was rushed to the hospital, and then sent by helicopter to Springfield where he stayed for 10 days. The Ronald McDonald House provided everything for us. I honestly do not know what we would have done if we weren’t able to stay there. It was so comforting to be able to talk to other families who were hurting like us. I am so thankful to the Ronald McDonald House for providing a family atmosphere during a tragic time in our lives. Bless you, all your staff and volunteers for all their hard work and love they give to others.
Wayne and Michella Seawright
The Newberry Family Story
When Jenna Newberry first came to the Ronald McDonald House,® it was as a volunteer. Throughout her high school years, her family would serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House with their church. She never could have imagined that one day she would be on the other side of the serving dish—that she would be the one receiving generosity during a time of intense fear and need. Yet on a cold December night, when Jenna had only been pregnant for 27 weeks, Lucy Marie (who weighed 2 lbs 5 oz) and Lilly Anne (who weighed 1 lbs 15 oz) came into the world.
Jenna, a teacher in Humansville, and her husband Andrew, a pastor, knew their daughters’ stay in the NICU was going to be a lengthy one. And with family out of state, their options were limited. But Jenna knew the Ronald McDonald House was nearby, which provided much needed relief. Staying in the House allowed her and her husband to see their girls anytime they wanted, and to be nearby for anything that might arise. The NICU nurses and Ronald McDonald House volunteers became the family and support they relied on during a time of need.
“We will forever support, and be blessed by, the Ronald McDonald House for being our ‘home away from home’ when our lives were turned upside down,” Jenna said. She and Andrew remained guests of the Ronald McDonald House for 66 days, saving them the 50-minute commute from their home in Bolivar.
Lucy Marie and Lilly Anne, now six months old and over 11 lbs each, remained in the NICU for ten weeks. Their mom and dad work as a team, investing both in quality family time and ensuring that the girls each get one-on-one time with their parents. The twins are happy and healthy, sleep through the night and greet each morning with laughter.
Jenna and Andrew are already thinking toward the next mom and dad who call the Ronald McDonald House home. They want to prepare family dinners for those staying at the Ronald McDonald House on nights when the girls’ grandparents can babysit.