North Coast

Dawn and her parents, Geri and Steve, were able to spend last Christmas together despite Dawn’s diagnosis of a serious, life-threatening condition.

Local businesses pull together this Christmas to give families with a sick child the best gift of all – each other

The festive season is all about spending time together with loved ones and enjoying those traditions that have stood the test of time.

Unfortunately for some families who have a child with a serious illness or injury, Christmas will be a little different this year. Many families will find themselves far from home this Christmas so their child can get the urgent medical assistance they need.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern NSW has reached out to local businesses to give families the best gift of all – each other – during their greatest time of need.

The #12DaysRMHChristmas campaign will bring businesses and the community together so they can provide a home away from home in unfamiliar cities, which is Dawn’s family found themselves just days after her birth.

After a low-risk pregnancy, Dawn was diagnosed with total intestinal aganglionosis, which makes it virtually impossible for her to digest foods and for which there is no cure.

During a time when most parents can happily introduce their new child to family and friends, her parents, Geri and Steve, were forced to travel 85km from home so Dawn could receive the care she needed.

Ronald McDonald House provided a place for them to stay, a warm shower, food, support, and the ability to focus on the most important thing – their child’s health.

As a result, Dawn was able to enjoy her first Christmas back at home.

“We can never describe the true impact Ronald McDonald House has had on our lives. We can’t thank them enough,” Steve and Geri said.

Unfortunately, many other families aren’t that lucky. A serious illness or injury won’t wait for the festivities to pass.

CEO of Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW, Ross Bingham says “accommodation is usually at capacity over Christmas and we rely on the generosity of the community to make providing a home away from home for families with seriously ill children possible.

“Children whose families stay at Ronald McDonald House tend to be the sickest, have travelled the furthest distances for care, and spend the longest time in the hospital. Their lives change instantly.”

“Our staff go to incredible lengths to make Christmas a special time for all who are staying in the house. Whilst many of us get to enjoy time with those we care about, these families have had to quickly leave their support network and home to be beside their child’s hospital bed.”

“It makes what, for most is a happy time of the year, an incredibly stressful one. But with the support of these amazing businesses and the community, we can give families the gift that will help them the most – each other.”

For every donation the community makes, a local business has put up their hand to match the amount up to $1,000.

For more details or to be a part of the #12DaysRMHChristmas, visit https://fundraise.rmhc.org.au/event/christmas-donor-appeal/home.

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