Cecilia (Ceci) may only be 16 years old, but she has gone through a lot in her lifetime. Born with Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus, and a lengthy list of other diagnoses, Ceci takes 15 different medications a day to stay healthy and out of the hospital. She has undergone 76 major surgeries and often must travel to different hospitals for treatment. Her family is grateful to find housing like the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City when they travel away from their home in Rock Island, Illinois.
When her family learned that Ceci would need another surgery at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, they reached out to the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City for a place to stay. Ceci’s mother, Alexis, shared, “It was more than just housing for us, we immediately felt warm and welcomed by the staff and environment at the Ronald McDonald House. We were comforted to know that there were other people there going through something similar.” Ceci was thrilled to find a welcome bag on her bed filled with goodies; it gave her something to focus on other than her surgery.
After a long and difficult surgery, Ceci was grateful for such a comfortable bed to come back to. Alexis discovered cupcakes in the kitchen and was excited to give one to Ceci after a day of recovering. Alexis said, “It was the little things like that which made a difference. Having a chocolate cupcake while recovering made her feel a lot better.”
Alexis and Ceci also shared how important having hot meals was for them after a long day in the hospital. Alexis mentioned, “From the parent’s perspective, you don’t always think about eating when your child is going through something like that. Ceci is always reminding me that I need to eat, so having a delicious meal at the House that is ready to go helped me take care of myself.” They shared that every volunteer they encountered, from meal groups to daily volunteers, showed they were there because they really cared about the families and the House’s mission.
Alexis shared, “The Ronald McDonald House brings families together. It was a place where Ceci’s siblings could also visit which is important for a family that is as close as ours. The staff have thought of everything there; a hot meal, a place to do laundry, connections with other families, and an overall sense of home.” Despite the challenges that Ceci faces, she remains a positive and upbeat person. She continues to do what she loves: high school cheerleading, being a Miracle Network Hospital Kiddo, Student Council member, and volunteering!