23 May Coming Home
One of our newest team members, Reese Bomberger, shares his own touching story of the journey from guest family to staff member at Ronald McDonald House. Reese joined the Development/fundraising team earlier this year:
When I was 8 years old, I developed a rare infection in my airway known as tracheitis. During an emergency intubation, my trachea was sliced open and my vocal chords were paralyzed. The complex nature of my condition required me to seek out-of-state care at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. I spent the next several years in and out of hospitals undergoing major surgeries. During my visits to Children’s Mercy, my parents found respite at the Ronald McDonald House of Kansas City. It is hard to imagine how my recovery would have differed without my family’s presence. Having Ronald McDonald House was critical to keeping my family unified and eliminating the stressful uncertainties that come with navigating a hospitalization.
A parent will do everything in their power to protect their children and prepare them for life’s tribulations. Despite these efforts, some obstacles are unavoidable. In these moments, all we can do is valiantly stand by and lend our steadfast support. Now, roughly 20 years and 20 surgeries later, I look back at my journey with immense gratitude. My childhood taught me a series of humbling lessons about the preciousness of life and a community’s ability to impact a family’s recovery. These experiences have led me back to a new, yet familiar home: the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Denver. The invaluable support I received as a sick child has emboldened me to give back to those in challenging times.
I recently met an 8-year-old boy who was staying at the Denver House. His name was Reid, and he had just received his 30+ surgery. My assigned duty was a simple, yet critical one…turn on the PlayStation. After firing up the video game console, I chatted with Reid and his grandmother. To the outside world, he was just another joyful kid excited to get home for baseball practice. But to me, I saw so much more – a boy who carried a strength that few can comprehend. I began to recognize striking similarities between our childhoods: first names, ages, hometowns, and sports interests. There are moments in life that align in beautiful harmonic progressions. For me, this convergence was the culmination of my 20 year journey. I sat with Reid serendipitously playing the same 2002 video games that I played when I was in the hospital. We joked, laughed, and shared stories. I hoped my friendly competition would distract him from his daily medical battles. I doubt Reid will ever understand the impression he left on me, but I am certain his resiliency will continue to inspire those around him. Today, my foundation is strong because it was fortified by the compassionate hearts of many generous and caring people. Support doesn’t always come in lavish packaging. Sometimes it’s the small acts that make the biggest differences. So if the time ever comes when your family needs a helping hand or simply a comfy bed to sleep in, we will be here. Ready to welcome you home.