August 14, 2019
Ella Richard, 15, shares how RMHC Toronto has made her family feel at home.
The Richard family from Atikokan, Ont. (Left to right: Laini, 10, mom, Shannon, Ella, 15, dad, Dan, and Cale, 12), have been staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto for five months while Ella battles cancer. On July 22, 2019, the Richards attended our 17th annual RMHC Toronto Charity Golf Classic where Ella delivered a speech that earned her a standing ovation from the more than 200 golfers and sponsors in attendance.
Here's Ella’s captivating speech about what RMHC Toronto means to her.
On March 10th, 2019, during our family March Break trip to Las Vegas, our world was turned upside down. It was discovered that I had advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was at the worst time of our lives that we came to know about RMHC Toronto.
Shortly after my diagnosis in Las Vegas, I was medically transported to Toronto. After several nights of my parents sleeping on a small cot and a mattress on the floor of my hospital room, they checked into the House.
We have been at the House 131 days. We were fortunate enough to get an apartment, which has allowed my brother, sister and both of my parents to be by my side the entire time.
RMHC Toronto has become our home. It feels like a retreat from the demands of hospital procedures, treatments and appointments. As soon as we enter the House, we feel relaxed and are welcomed by friendly staff members and volunteers at the front desk. Our apartment is very spacious, comfortable and allows us to be together as a family and feel a sense of normalcy during a very uncertain time. We also enjoy the outdoor areas, family lounge and the gym. My parents have said that without the House, they could not have been away from their jobs for as long as they have been. I’m grateful for that because I wouldn’t want to go through this without both of them.
Many positive things have come from our stay at the House. When I first got sick, I was part way through my first year of high school. I was worried about finishing school and getting my credits. We soon found out that the House has an on-site private school. Once I registered, the teachers and principal reached out to my hometown school and I was able to successfully complete my grade 9 year with their support. My sister also attended RMHC Toronto School, and she says it was one of the best experiences of her life.
The many programs offered have made our stay more enjoyable. The Home for Dinner nights allow us to enjoy a meal with other families. We also look forward to visits from the therapy dogs. I really miss my dog Pebbles and being able to visit with the various dogs makes me think of her. My sister has enjoyed different Arts and Crafts programs, such as woodworking, and is currently taking part in RMHC Toronto Summer Camp.
Our stay at the House has given us the opportunity to connect with other families with a sick child. Each family that we have met has some understanding of what we’re going through and we don’t feel so alone. We have made several friendships that will last long after we leave the House.
We will always remember and be grateful for the support of RMHC Toronto. It has brought us comfort and joy during the most challenging time of our lives. We truly feel at home and taken care of here.
We know that this charity could not be successful without the generosity of countless donors and supporters.
We appreciate you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You have made a difference in my life and the lives of many other children and families.