The Berggren Family

My name is Karen, and I came to the Ronald McDonald House in October 2017. My son Toby, who was 15 years old at the time, was admitted to the eating disorder unit. 

We thought it would be a short week or two stay, but after meeting with Toby’s doctors, that wasn’t the case.  My husband and I both drove back home that night, which was the hardest thing we’d ever done.  Tears did not stop flowing the entire night.  We just left our son in a strange place 90 minutes from our house! The next morning, we drove back to Iowa City to meet with the doctors again, this time in separate vehicles knowing I would stay somewhere. After contacting the Ronald McDonald House, we were told there was not a room available.  I was able to book a hotel at a discounted price through Ronald McDonald House while I was on the waitlist.  We were so thankful for that.  After about a week of waiting to see if the Ronald McDonald House had a room, one became available.  

With my son staying at the hospital in the eating disorder unit, there were only a few times I could visit him during the day.  That meant a lot of free time for me.  Although that may sound exciting, it wasn’t.  I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any place to go.  Right away though the staff made me feel welcome and everyone was so friendly.  I started making friends with the other families that were staying and that made time pass faster.  I even started working out at a gym close by that the RMH had guest passes to.   

I stayed during Thanksgiving and Christmas and the RMH blessed our family with huge meals, crafts for the kids to make, gifts for Toby’s siblings, and we even got to watch a Hawkeye football game and wave to everyone.   

To anyone who is on the fence about whether to donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities, I strongly encourage it. I would’ve been a wreck if I wasn’t able to be close to my son and visit him every day. The meals, snacks, rides to the hospital, passes to the gym, free laundry, and friendly faces are just a few things I was blessed by. 

My favorite part of the Ronald McDonald House was the lasting friendships I made with the staff and the people staying there.  I was eager to go home after 3 months of staying at the Ronald McDonald House, but a little sad I probably wouldn’t be seeing my friends ever again. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep in touch with some on social media. I will never forget the Ronald McDonald House and how much they helped our family! Our family will continue to give back and try to bless other families that may need to stay at the RMH. 

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