Today I had a very inspiring visit and tour of the Ottawa Ronald McDonald House. I have been looking to donate a batch of my Believe hoodies that came in the wrong color to a charity or organization. I didn’t want to incorporate a new colour since CP Business Solutions and I had just worked really hard on my branding with the hot pink.
I have had MANY signs guiding me toward the Ronald McDonald House so I approached the possibility of a meeting with the Manager and Executive Director through my McDonalds Store Owner (John Correia).
- McDonald’s Barrhaven has been very generous to me by sponsorship towards my last two World Championships. I wanted to somehow give back in some small way.
- Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald Golf Tournament Charity event a couple months ago really opened my eyes and sparked my interest in the House.
- I have been greatly moved and humbled by a two people reaching out to me about my ‘Believe Project’ and expressing their appreciation for the message that I have been trying to spread, as they are children cancer survivors.
- My mom was sick for 3 years and is still recovering including 7 surgeries, dialysis, flat-lining 4 times, has gone through every test possible and spent several months in the hospital (mostly the ICU). I learned first hand what it’s like to be the family of a loved one in a long life threatening battle.
Originally, the concept of ‘Believe’ was about goal setting, sports and how my ‘Believe’ hoodie was my version of a superhero cape 🙂 I have realized that the word ‘Believe’ has such a deeper and unique meaning to so many people living their individual lives and experiences. It is universal for any of life’s circumstances.
I have had my own harsh realities that have made me appreciate the Believe Project on a more profound level. It’s easy to be optimistic, shoot for the stars and strive to be better everyday when things are going well in your life and everything is balanced. The reality is, in the darkest of times when your world is crumbling under you, it’s not so easy anymore. That’s when still believing and keeping that hope is crucial.
Meeting Carol Houston (executive director) and Cheryl Levasseur (Manager) was very special. First of all I was surprised of how receptive they were to actually meeting with me. They have been working there since the house opened just over 30 years ago. These two lovely ladies were two of the most incredible women I’ve ever met. They were so genuine, kind, loving and sensitive. It surprised me for a moment thinking about how hard it would be working with sick children and their families without developing the classic layer of separation. But quickly I realized that the Ronald McDonald House isn’t a place of institutionalized treatment for sick children, but a HOME for them and their families to relax, play smile, laugh, let go and have fun. It’s a very positive atmosphere with plenty of big smiles from the staff, the volunteers and the families staying there.
When you walk into the House, right away it’s full of warmth comfort and safety. It’s a support system for all the families and it’s a place where children who are being treated at CHEO can stay and be with their families. During the tour, I was caught off guard with how friendly the children were inviting us happily into “their” home. Families stay there from a weekend up to years depending on the situation. For some of the younger children this is the only normalcy that they have. The families who live there aren’t from Ottawa so I can only imagine how difficult is it for parents not being able to work and also how it effects the children’s education.
They seemed excited about my ‘Believe Project’ and we discussed quite a few different options so I look forward to future meetings with Carol and Cheryl. I am very excited to see in what ways I will get to be involved with the Ronald McDonald House.
A special thank you to John Correia and Michael Barrett for organizing this meeting and tour and to Michael for actually coming. I know we were both very moved by the visit.
As I left the house (home) the final words to me were, “Everyday is a great day!” I couldn’t agree more!!!
Stay tuned to find out what happens next! 🙂