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Your Gift Can Help Families Pick Up the Pieces When Their World Comes Apart

RMHC Family-Centered Programs Keep Families Together Helping Children Heal Faster and Cope Better

OAK BROOK, IL -- (Marketwire) -- 12/14/12 -- This holiday season, donations to Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) will help keep families together when their lives fall apart. For Erin Maley her world unraveled in an instant. A violent car crash took the life of her husband and paralyzed her 22 month-old daughter, Summer, who had to be hospitalized two hours from their home. When she didn't think there was anything anyone could say or do to make it better, the manager at the Ronald McDonald House® in Cincinnati, Ohio, said, "We have a place here for you to stay." Every day, more than 11,500 families -- like the Maley's -- can stay close by their hospitalized child at a Ronald McDonald House or be a few steps away from their child's bedside at a Ronald McDonald Family Room, thanks to generous donors.

That day started out like a typical Saturday for the Maley's. They were going to Cincinnati to visit friends. When they got into the car to leave, Erin knew Summer was exhausted, and she bet her husband, Ryan, that she would fall asleep in her car seat before they were even to the next stop light. They were sitting at a red light and when it turned green, Erin turned back to see if Summer was asleep. After that, she doesn't remember anything. When Erin woke up three days later, she learned there had been an accident -- a tragic one. Ryan was gone and Summer was seriously hurt and at a children's hospital, two hours from their home, suffering and paralyzed from a broken neck. Life as they knew it had come apart.

Erin and her mom stayed at the House for 60 days while Summer fought to heal and regain mobility. "Being able to stay next to Summer, and having my mom there to do a load of laundry, to heat up dinner for me, to hold my head up, to give me strength to help Summer fight, was huge for me," said Erin. It's been two years since the accident. Summer is three years old. She is now walking and nearly 100 percent recovered. "Although Summer will never know her dad, my Ryan, like I do, I will continue telling her how much he loved her -- how much she meant to him -- how proud he would be of the smart, healthy, beautiful little girl that she has become."

RMHC is sharing the Maley's courageous story as part of its holiday season campaign to mobilize people to give. Their story is the focal point on the Charity's website. It has also been featured in USA TODAY within ad space kindly donated by the newspaper. "The Maley's were able to make it through their recovery period and gain hope to start again, in great part, because of the support, care and strength they found from the staff, volunteers and other families at the Ronald McDonald House," said Jennifer Blanchard Smith, senior director, RMHC. "Every day, there are countless children and their families who depend on the unwavering support they receive from our family-centered programs. Our donors help us put the pieces back together for families like the Maley's. The money our donors invest is invaluable. A gift to RMHC this holiday season is truly the gift of togetherness. We hope all those who have the ability to be with their families this holiday season will consider making a donation to RMHC to help families who can't."

In a recent review of medical literature to assess the role that Ronald McDonald Houses play in the health care experience for critically ill children and their families, RMHC found that experts agree that having parents close and more continually present at the hospital has positive benefits for ill children. The Charity's programs and services, like the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room, help reduce stress, fear and anxiety, improve sleep, and -- in studies of infants -- reduce length of stay, ultimately, improving the health and wellbeing of children. Over 40 percent of families served by the Ronald McDonald House program have an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Recently, RMHC was honored by the American Hospital Association for being an exceptional partner in the delivery of health care services, a testament that RMHC is part of the continuum of care that allows families the opportunity to stay close to their child. The nonprofit has Chapters operating and supporting family-centered programs and services in 57 countries and regions, serving more than 4.5 million children and families annually. People can help the Charity meet its $1 million fundraising goal by donating now, starting a personal fundraising page at www.rmhc.org/groupgive, or sharing their support of RMHC with social media networks to encourage their circle of friends to give.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities
Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®), a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) corporation, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Through its global network of local Chapters in 57 countries and regions, its three core programs, the Ronald McDonald House®, Ronald McDonald Family Room® and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®, and millions of dollars in grants to support children's programs worldwide, RMHC provides stability and resources to families so they can get and keep their children healthy and happy. All RMHC-operated and supported programs provide a bridge to quality health care and give children and families the time they need together to heal faster and cope better. For more information, visit www.rmhc.org, follow us on Twitter (@RMHC) or like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/RMHC Global).

For more information on RMHC:
www.rmhc.org
The following trademarks used herein are owned by McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities Logo, RMHC, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.

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