“We were not financially prepared for a situation like this. Without the Ronald McDonald House, I would have been sleeping on the floor of my son’s hospital room, that’s for sure.”
Lorie Martin became concerned in March 2019 when her healthy and active 7-year-old child, Raylon, became lethargic and unresponsive. Very quickly his condition deteriorated, to the point where he couldn’t even walk or communicate. Though the family was from Bristolville, Raylon was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital where he was quarantined with a suspected case of meningitis.
Raylon went through many tests and a lot of poking and prodding before he was diagnosed with a rare form of viral meningitis called meningoencephalitis. He was hospitalized, and the doctors prepared the Martins – this form of meningitis could be lethal and Raylon experienced major brain trauma. He would have a long road to recovery.
The first few nights, the Martins spent the night in the hospital as the doctors treated Raylon. That’s when Lorie’s mom found a pamphlet about the Ronald McDonald House Akron and suggested they get a room. Even once they got a room, Lorie had a hard time leaving Raylon’s bedside while he was still sick.
“I would lay down and toss and turn all night, not being able to sleep,” said Lorie. “Even though we were so close to the hospital, it was a very hard time for us but I knew I had to try to get some rest because I knew there would be moments I would need to be strong for my son.”
Raylon started to get better and was moved out of the PICU and then was discharged. That being said, the doctors knew that with brain trauma, it was important to administer intense rehab to help Raylon recover faster and heal. Lorie and Raylon stayed at the house through mid-May as Raylon went through rehab.
During this time, the Ronald McDonald House was so important for Lorie. “I was able to have a place to grab a quick shower or snack, or even just to walk to and clear my head for a minute,” said Lorie.
Once Raylon was discharged, he stayed with Lorie at the House. After his intense rehab, he was often very tired when he got back to the house, but he enjoyed playing on the computer and watching TV.
“He especially liked the snack bar – at home I’m a little stingy with the treats, but while we were there I let him have what he wanted,” said Lorie.
Raylon even found a friend at the House that he enjoyed spending time with. “The two of them would play board games, and I think their friendship really helped Raylon keep his spirits up as he went through this difficult time,” said Lorie.
Thankfully, Raylon recovered very quickly, much faster than anticipated. He is doing very well but continues to go back for evaluations.
During this difficult time, the Ronald McDonald House was invaluable to the Martin’s – “We were not financially prepared for a situation like this. Without the Ronald McDonald House, I would have been sleeping on the floor of my son’s hospital room, that’s for sure,” said Lorie.
Before staying at the House, Lorie knew of the organization, but didn’t know what they did. “I’ve always thrown some spare change in the collection boxes for Ronald McDonald House, but I didn’t really know what it was,” she said. “I just knew that it was a good thing to do, just that they help families. After being there and seeing everything that they do, that’s when I realized the real importance.”
For her, the biggest value was being able to focus on what was most important. “I never once had to worry about anything – I didn’t have to grocery shop or cook or clean – the only thing I needed to do is focus on my son,” said Lorie.
The Ronald McDonald House Akron has been helping thousands of families like the Martins stay close to their children during hospital stays since 1985. Donations fund 98% of the operating costs of the House and it’s important for the community to rally and help other families in need.
“I’d encourage everyone, even if you just have a spare dime, to donate to Ronald McDonald House – your donations are so worth it,” said Lorie. “The blessings, the comfort, the peace of mind – I can’t say thank you enough. I just could not image what would have happened to us if we weren’t able to stay there.”
No matter how big or small, a donation will help this House run and help other families like the Martins. Find out how you can help here.