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Our daughter was just three months old when she had her first open heart surgery. It's been amazing to have other families around who understand what you’re going through and how to offer

the encouragement you need.

Cepkauskas Family

Ronald McDonald House, Illinois

“Our daughter was just three months old when she had her first open heart surgery. It's been amazing to have other families around who understand what you’re going through and how to offer the encouragement you need.”

When our daughter Emily was born in 2016, my husband Marcus and I fell in love with her instantly. Our fears about her very serious heart defect and concerns about raising a child with Down Syndrome faded to the background the second we saw her. From that moment on, we were focused on loving Emily and making sure she was getting the very best care. When Emily had her first open heart surgery, it meant the world to us that I was able to stay so close to her. Thanks to Ronald McDonald House Charities®, Emily was never alone.

On the morning of her surgery, I asked the hospital social worker to refer us to the Ronald McDonald House® across the street from Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Once Emily was stable, we were so grateful to be offered a room in the House. Staying at the Ronald McDonald House really helped me get through those long months of Emily’s hospitalization.

Marcus was still able to visit almost every night. Some nights he brought our son Tyler with him so we could all eat dinner together. We even celebrated Tyler’s third birthday at the House with family and friends, while still just steps from Emily’s hospital room. I made life-long friends at the House and we will be forever grateful to RMHC for keeping our family close while we made sure Emily got the care she needed.

The mission of RMHC is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.

Did you know

  • Thirty-One has donated over 500,000 Welcome Bags to families at houses in the U.S. & Canada
  • We have provided 12,500 family nights at Ronald McDonald Houses to families in U.S. & Canada
  • 46% of chapters rely on Thirty-One Consultant volunteers
  • Consultants deliver hundreds of care bags and zipper pouches to Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms
  • Welcome bags are making a difference:

"Families love having the bags to carry things to the hospital. They also recognize each other because of the bags. When they see someone out in their community with a welcome bag, it is a conversation starter."

"Having an element in their life that helps organize and focus their day is key. When their world is spinning out of control, having just one organized, reliable piece of your life can be calming and comforting."

"We witness a remarkable transformation in our families as we hand them a welcome bag and explain that Thirty-One Gifts has donated them to welcome them to the house."

"The bags are a surprise and provide a warm, supportive welcome to families who are in dire need of support."