Ronald McDonald House Central Florida hits 20,000 families helped milestone
Cupcakes, candles and adorably cute kids were on hand to help mark a major community milestone Thursday at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida.
The not-for-profit has now provided temporary lodging, meals and transportation to more than 20,000 families with critically ill children.
"I don't know what we would have done without this place," said Oveido mom Heidi Andersen, who stayed in the house with her husband Todd when her twins Ethan and Emma were born prematurely at just 31 weeks.
The twins, who turned 11 Thursday, received round-the-clock care for several weeks in the neonatal unit at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
As part of the charity's celebration, Ethan and Emma shared birthday cupcakes with other families staying at the House. They also pored through stacks of photo albums capturing their first years, laughing at pictures of them as babies nestled inside their dad's hand.
"When your children are in the hospital and can't leave, going home is out of the question," said Andersen. "When we heard about the Ronald McDonald House, we were so relieved. It was a tremendous gift."