Ronald Mcdonald House Takes First Step for Expansion

April 19, 2018 08:22 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- The Rochester Ronald McDonald house is one step closer to providing more families with a home away from home.

On Tuesday, it announced it’s ready to break ground and start on a house expansion.


Heather Usry, a mother of a patient at the house believes it will make a difference in the life of hundreds of other patients.

"With finding out about Lila’s leukemia, like the Wizard of Oz experience. It was such a traumatic before and after,” said Heather.

Those were the moments before Heather found out she had to make the trip from Mississippi to get her daughter care at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester.

Dawn Davis a physician at Mayo Clinic’s Children’s Center says those can be tough times "when children and their families have to travel, it's a lot of stress with regards to time and resources. Much less the emotional and physical stress of going through complex medical care."

But soon after arriving, Heather says her family was rescued by the Ronald McDonald house.

Peggy Elliott, the executive director for the house says that’s what they’re for.

"We are here to provide a home away from home experience for families who sometimes travel a few hours, sometimes they are traveling thousands of miles across oceans to come to Mayo Clinic for care."

"A foundation of support to get our bearings so that we could take care of Lila. So we didn't have to figure out where we were gonna stay,” added Heather.

And that’s why the Ronald McDonald House plans to convert the lot beside it into a bigger home.  

"We are fortunate enough to serve about 800 families each calendar year. The unfortunate part of the equation is that we are turning away over a thousand families each year during that time frame,” said Peggy.

But after the expansion is done, it will be able to serve 14,000 families per year.

And although the future is unclear for Heather, Lila and her family, it gives them comfort to have someone holding their hand along the way.

"Recovery and response to treatment have been hopeful and we are positive that she's gonna be cured and go home healthy. But we're not sure when,” said Heather.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for May 5. Construction will begin soon after and the hope is that the project will be finished within a year. 


Roxanne Elias

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