The Downs-Hafley Family

We would like to introduce the Downs-Hafley family from Wickenburg, Arizona – mom Nannette, dad Harold and their son Marcelino.

When Marcelino needed a specialist to treat his club foot, the family knew the Ponsetti Institute at the University of Iowa was his best chance. They also knew the treatment would require a lengthy stay in Iowa City, a long way from home. Harold needed to say in Arizona, close to his job, and Marcelino and Nannette planned the trip, knowing they would fly to an unfamiliar city alone.

Nannette arrived in Iowa City feeling a bit overwhelmed and apprehensive. With Marcelino in a wheelchair, she worried about navigating in an unfamiliar community and feeling at home in a strange place. When they arrived at the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City, however, her worries were immediately put at ease.  Learning that the Ronald McDonald House did not charge families to stay alleviated her financial concerns. The home-cooked meals every evening, a stocked pantry, laundry facility, van shuttles, and more further allowed her to focus on Marcelino rather than on making ends meet.

During their stay, Nannette and Marcelino found a home at the Ronald McDonald House. They enjoyed interacting with everyone from volunteers to other families.  As Nannette felt more comfortable talking with other families and sharing experiences, she began welcoming new families as they arrived and helped them settle in. Nannette and Marcelino met another family with a boy a few years younger than he also going through club foot treatment. Marcelino, a pro at maneuvering his wheelchair, helped teach the other child how to get around in his and gave him tips to get comfortable with his new wheelchair. The families developed a friendship that continued after their stay.

Nannette was most impressed by the volunteers and donors. “The volunteers are heroes and they don’t even know it,” says Nannette. Marcelino loved playing games. He would light up when he could play Minecraft, create a scavenger hunt, or do other activities with volunteers.

Marcelino and Nannette spent several holidays at the Ronald McDonald House and cherish the memories created. From spending time with Santa to going to his first Iowa Hawkeye men’s basketball game, having opportunities to take their minds off the treatments and being away from home helped keep their spirits up and made their stay a positive experience.

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