Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill

A House of Hope in Chapel Hill | Illuminate to Benefit Ronald McDonald House Chapel Hill

Proceeds from Vend Raleigh’s 2015 Illuminate Conference are going to support The Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill. The Ronald McDonald house of Chapel Hill provides hope, healing and a home away from home for families of seriously ill children who must travel to Chapel Hill for specialized medical treatment at area hospitals

Ronald McDonald House of Chapel HillI thought the worst part of my day would be drinking that awful fruit drink for my glucose test, but at a routine doctor’s appointment for my second baby, my world quickly turned upside down. I had requested an additional ultrasound because the ultrasound tech wasn’t 100% sure that we were having a boy. And since I was considered high-risk due to having preeclampsia during my first pregnancy, my doctor was happy to schedule a 27-week ultrasound.

I anticipated finding out my baby’s gender (funny enough they still couldn’t get a good look), but instead found out that my baby was small for its gestational age. I was admitted into Rex Hospital a few hours later, and was transferred out to UNC Hospital the following day. The goal was to stay pregnant for as long as possible, but my baby’s oxygen supply was compromised due to an underdeveloped placenta, so the doctors had to perform an emergency c-section on January 15th, 12 weeks before my due date.

Ford William Throneburg made his grand entrance into the world at a whopping 1lb, 15oz. The name Ford was appropriate, as we deemed that he was #BuiltFordTough (a hashtag that would soon convince people that he was named after the car and not the president). We were no strangers to the NICU, as our first son, Lincoln, was born at 30 weeks. But what we weren’t prepared for were complications from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) that would lead to four surgeries and a five and a half month stay in the hospital!

Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill

Jessica holding Ford at 10 days old.

We live over an hour away from UNC Hospital, and we couldn’t bear the thought of leaving our tiny baby as my discharge day grew closer. A case manager from the NICU told us about the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and put in a referral for us. She warned us that spaces were limited, and that we should call the day I was being discharged to see if a space was available. We were fortunate enough to get a space right away, and we were so thankful!

Staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill relieved a lot of stress for us. Not only did we have a place to stay that was close to Ford, but volunteers provided us with all of our meals, as well as provided activities for us, such as chair massages and therapy dogs (two of my favorites). It also gave us a new support system. We met several parents that were going through the same situation as us, and those were the ones we turned to when we needed to cry, laugh or pray. We cheered for each other when our babies met a milestone, and we hugged each other when there was a setback. Hearing stories from others gave us a sense of hope. It was bittersweet when a family moved out. We were excited that they would get to take their child home, but sad that we would lose that support, and even more sad that we weren’t going home, too. But soon another family would move into the house, and we would build that support system all over again.

When friends came to visit the, they always had to pose for a picture with Ronald himself!

Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill

Every parent’s worst nightmare is having a sick child and not having the ability to be there with them. And that’s where the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill helps out parents the most. I can’t imagine going through this experience and not having Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill as a resource. Sadly, they have to turn away hundreds of families each year due to limited space. I’m excited that proceeds from the Illuminate Conference will go to supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and their expansion efforts!


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Jessica Throneburg
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  1. This is so wonderful to hear that the proceeds from Illuminate will go to The Ronald McDonald House! Your story was so touching & hope you and your family are doing well and growing strong. Reading your post made me think of our months in the NICU with our 28 wk, 2 lb. baby girl. The relationships you build during the journey are amazing and such a support. Thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

    1. Thanks Tiffani! Ford still has some issues we’re working through with specialists and physical therapy, but we’re just thankful that we can work on those things from home! I hope your little girl is doing well. Will you be at Illuminate this year? I would love to connect with you and hear your story!

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