CLEVELAND - When Nicole Talbott walks downstairs in the morning to brew a pot of coffee, she doesn’t pass her own front door. Instead, Nicole passes by the welcome desk of the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. But make no mistake; this is home to a family whose medical history has taken them far from their own house just outside Steubenville.
The Talbott family’s medical journey began 23 years ago. That’s when Alex was born prematurely, weighing just one pound, 13 ounces. Five years later, Michael came into the world, also weighing less than two pounds. The family drove 45 minutes each way to be with Michael during his 100-day stay in a Pittsburgh hospital.
Not only were Alex and Michael both born prematurely, they each have cerebral palsy. When Alex began to develop frequent seizures, his parents brought him to Cleveland for medical treatment. Nicole and Bryan were prepared to pay the usual $225 a night to stay in a hotel, until they got a call they’ll never forget. The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland had a room for them.
On Make A Difference Day on Oct. 22, WKYC employees and their family members will contribute their time and talents to the Ronald McDonald House. They will be cooking meals, baking treats, stuffing welcome bags for families checking into the House, and sorting craft supplies for the children.
Volunteer groups like WKYC help the Ronald McDonald House provide families with a comfortable place to stay that’s close to the hospital, House officials say.
Not only will the efforts of WKYC’s volunteers benefit the 55 families staying at the House, they will be helping visitors who use Ronald McDonald Family Rooms at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, Fairview Hospital, MetroHealth Medical Center, and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Last year the Family Rooms served 77,000 visitors. The group will be making “boredom” bags for the Happy Wheels carts that visit children’s rooms, preparing boxed lunches, and cooking a meal so families don’t have to leave their children’s side.
For the Talbotts, the House feels like their own home. Along with Nicole’s morning coffee, they have dinner at the House every night, prepared by volunteers. Even when they’re not back from the hospital until late, there’s always something available for them to eat. Bryan parks their van in a secure lot, and they’re only a short walk to the hospital. They can be at Alex’s side in a matter of minutes.
“It’s easier on your mind and body to be close to your child,” says Bryan.
All Northeast Ohio residents are invited to join in on Make a Difference Day, which is held annually on the fourth Saturday in October. The volunteer initiative is guided by TEGNA Inc., the parent company of WKYC, and Gannett media properties.
“TEGNA’s purpose is to empower the people we serve and make a positive impact in our communities,” said TEGNA Chief Executive Officer and President Gracia Martore in a statement. “Make a Difference Day provides us an opportunity to do just that.”
Since its start in 1992, Make a Difference Day has become one of the nation’s largest annual single days of service nationwide.
In Northeast Ohio, a host of different volunteer opportunities are planned for Oct. 22, from cleaning up a Lake Erie beach to sorting donated medical supplies.
If you are interested in participating, you can sign up at here, or by calling 216.736.7711