THE COLON FAMILY

Maria’s daughter, Mia, was born prematurely at just a little over two pounds. Within days, Mia developed an intestinal condition that landed her in the NICU at Strong and set in motion her family’s experience with Ronald McDonald House, where they found comfort and enduring friendships.

“When we stayed at Ronald McDonald House, it was a place to be away from everything — where we could rest, where we could shower, where we could kind of regroup. It was somewhere we could collect ourselves and then meet other parents that were in similar positions. It’s really helpful to know you’re not alone.”

Describing herself as private and a little headstrong, Maria reflects on how opening up or accepting help isn’t always easy, but the staff at Ronald McDonald House had a delicate approach and warm way of encouraging self-care.

“The staff has this way of showing you what you need without blatantly saying it, and it’s nice that someone treads lightly but actually encourages what you need.”

Shortly after their initial hospital stay for Mia, Maria and her husband adopted their son, Michael, who also had extensive medical needs and has spent a collective 35 months at the Golisano Children’s Hospital so far. His condition frequently brings him back for treatment, and Maria’s family can’t envision a future without Ronald McDonald House, even if they reach a day where they no longer need to benefit from the services offered.

“It’s not a service you ever want to need. It’s not something you ever want to experience. But it is vital to parents and our children, and to our community. A lot of people think you’re there for a time — two months, a few weeks — but they don’t realize that it never ends. Once you’re part of that family, you’re never forgotten.”