Reading at the Ronald McDonald House and My Car Accident

A few months ago, I was contacted by a wonderful company called Balloons asking if I would like to participate in a Back to School event which they were hosting at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Chicago. I immediately said yes and that I would love to hold a storytime for the kids staying there and also for their families.  For those who don’t know, I was an elementary school teacher for 14 years and I currently lead a storytime twice a week at a local play cafe.  Aaaaand obviously I have a passion for reading 😉

If you aren’t familiar with the Ronald McDonald House and all that it offers for families, here is a brief description from their website:

We exist so families can get better together. Helping a sick child fight their illness takes a huge emotional toll on a family. Adding a financial strain can make it all almost too much to bear. We help address those problems, whether it involves providing housing near a hospitalized child, furnishing a place to rest within the hospital, or bringing free healthcare to children in under-served areas of Chicago.                                                                                    

I was prepared to have a nice experience at this event.  I was NOT prepared to have a magical experience at this event.  Magic is the only word I can use to describe the beauty of that night.

On Saturday August 17th, I headed downtown and was honored to participate alongside face painters, a magician, live music, arts and crafts, etc. for the children and their families who were staying at the Ronald McDonald House.  The event itself was amazing, the families were amazing, and the entire experience for everyone involved was amazing.

I was absolutely blown away by the beauty inside of that building from the incredibly kind staff, the wonderful amenities, and the beautiful families.

My puppets (Shelley and Manu Manu) came with me:

I brought TONS of books with me to read:

It’s hard to express exactly how much doing that storytime meant to me.  I met amazing children, some of whom were able to participate using words and some who weren’t.  Some who seemed to be the picture of health and some who moaned from being in pain. I read them stories about dinosaurs, pigs, and dancing dogs.  I brought a mermaid puppet, a dragon puppet, and lots of stickers.  I sang songs.  I hugged parents who were crying and listened to their stories about their children and what led them there.  I watched as not only the littlest people in the room but also their whole families were momentarily taken away from whatever pain they having while enjoying magical stories that I was able to provide.

Books have a magical way of allowing the reader the briefest escape from reality, even just for a few moments.

(Photo Credit: Balloons)

(Photo Credit: ZShare Photovisions)

(Photo Credit: ZShare Photovisions)

Other Event Highlights included Balloons keychains for each child:

Backpacks filled with school supplies for each child:

(Photo Credit: Balloons)

(Photo Credit: Balloons)

Click the following link to watch a 1 minute video from the event (Video Credit: ZShare PhotovisionsRabble Dabble, Balloons,)

View this post on Instagram

08/17/2019; @rmhccni X @balloons.us ———————————————— 66 Families, 15 Volunteers, Magicians, Story-Tellers, Face-painters, Arts & Crafts, Live Music & more. The ultimate back to school party✊🏼 • It means the world to us, to have had the opportunity to bring smiles to these families’ faces this past Saturday. Thank you @rmhccni for letting us come hangout! ———————————————— For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Ronald McDonald House Charities, they focus on helping sick children fight serious illness by providing housing near the child’s treatment center. They also take the emotional & financial strain away from these families by providing proper health care, free of charge. 🎥@zshare_photovisions 🎥@rabbledabble

A post shared by BALLOONS® (@balloons.us) on

After the event was over, we were given a tour of the amazing and beautiful facility.  Admittingly I was seeing most of it through the tears in my eyes.  What a special place this is and I had absolutely no idea all that this amazing organization provides.  If you are looking for a meaningful way to volunteer your time, I would HIGHLY encourage you to reach out.  What a beautiful place this is in every single way.

Stunning Meditation Room:

When a child comes to the Ronald McDonald house, they are able to choose a toy from their incredible toy closet:

I left with tears in my eyes and gratitude in my heart.

 

While driving home, I was so caught up in my thoughts and reflections on the incredible night that I had just been a part of and suddenly this happened…

Ugh.

I’m ok and so was the person in the other car.  I was sore, emotionally shaken, and a bit lightheaded for a few days afterward.  I still have a scab across my chest from where my seatbelt dug into my skin.

It could have been SO MUCH WORSE.  I’m extremely thankful.

My SUV is still being repaired and as of today, they estimate I will have it back in about 10 more days. It is pretty messed up.

Most importantly, my kids weren’t in the car.  When the police officer at the scene noticed that I had 2 car seats in my backseat, he asked if my children were in the car at the time of the accident.  I started sobbing out of gratitude when I said that they were peacefully sleeping at home with my husband.

I refuse to allow the awful ending to be the event which outshadows the beautiful beginning of that night.  It really was such a special and meaningful night…

To say that I was emotionally drained from EVERYTHING last Saturday night once I got home would be a gigantic understatement. My husband came outside and met me in our driveway to hug me as I sobbed.

A huge thank you to Balloons for hosting and inviting me to participate in such a meaningful and beautiful evening.  I was so incredibly honored to be a part of it.

Count me in for next year…although I just may have someone else drive 😉

Xo,

Jenny

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15 thoughts on “Reading at the Ronald McDonald House and My Car Accident

  1. Thanks so much for sharing the joy of the back-to-school celebration! Ronald McDonald Houses are definitely magical places. So sorry to hear about your accident but I’m glad you’re feeling better every day and your children weren’t involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you are okay! RMHC is definitely an amazing organization! I became familiar with them when I was in college, since that is the organization that my sorority supports for their philanthropy. Volunteering there is really a meaningful experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post brought on the tears! Thank you for sharing your time and energy with families who need a short respite from the reality of their lives.
    I’m sorry the evening ended on a scary note for you- accidents are horrible! I’m glad you’re in recovery mode and had the support of your hubby {{hugs}}

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like you and the kids had a wonderful time! Now that I am retired, this looks like a wonderful place to volunteer 😊 Glad you are ok after your accident. It’s so scary when it happens to you. When I was sideswiped by a semi in June, I dealt with vertigo. Getting better now. Take it easy with yourself in case you may have had a concussion. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I started reading I could hear your voice as if you were sharing this story personally with me, then came the tears. Your experience and words truly moved me. How special to have been able to share in that moment. Thank God you were safe and that your beautiful children were safe at home! Thank you for sharing your blog with me! I will definitely be an avid reader!

    Liked by 1 person

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