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Volunteers Bring Christmas to Families at Ronald McDonald House

Updated: 12/23/2013 11:00 PM
Created: 12/23/2013 9:42 PM KAALtv.com
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 News) -- For many of us the holidays are all about being home with our families, but for some families that's not possible. That’s why the Ronald McDonald House works to make the best of their Christmas.

Five year old Cayden Walstad and 3 year old Kailey Walstad may seem right at home, but they are far from it.

"We usually spend Christmas at grandpa and grandmas," said mom Kari Walstad.

The Walstads came down to Rochester from Bismarck North Dakota earlier this month after they discovered their unborn child had heart issues.

"He's smaller than normal and they are unsure if that's heart related or not, or if there is something else," said Kari Walstad.

Their baby boy is scheduled to be delivered next week and then he will undergo several surgeries. Until then the Walstads will be spending their Christmas at the Ronald McDonald House.

"I was in the lobby and the song I'll be home for Christmas was on, and you know there's many families here that won't be home for Christmas," said Community Development Director Maggie Schoepski.

Schoepski says through the help of volunteers the Ronald McDonald House does their best to bring Christmas to the families staying there.

"It's overwhelmingly emotional for the families because they are already dealing with their child’s illness or going through the stress of their own illness," said Schoepski.

Volunteers have helped to decorate the home, Santa has visited several times, and the staff has worked hard to provide Christmas activities each day.

"We want to make it feel and smell like grandma's here," said Schoepski.

Which is important for the families here that have been through plenty of stress this holiday season.

"They look forward to what's going on each day," said Kari Walstad.

Because besides concern over his baby brother, Cayden has had other worries.

"His biggest concern was to make sure Santa would be able to find him," said Kari Walstad.

With that assured, they've been able to make the most of being away from home for the holidays.

"If they're happy, I'm happy," said Walstad.

The Walstads may still have several months of stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Once their baby boy is delivered next week, he will most likely be in the NICU unit for some time.