The day after being born with pulmonary hypertension, Hector Cerna Jr. was transported from Unity Point Methodist in Des Moines via helicopter to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. Parents Hector Sr. and Alicia traveled to Iowa City followed by car, “It was the scariest time of our lives” said Alicia. “The last thing on my mind was a place for us to stay. Getting to our son was the only thing on my mind”. When the Cernas arrived in Iowa City, they received a call from the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City and were notified a room was open. For the next two months the Cernas would call the Ronald McDonald House their home.
With two older children, Hector Sr. and Alicia were thankful the Ronald McDonald House had activities to keep the whole family entertained and occupied during their stay. Alicia explains, “We are a close-knit family with a lot of energy so to have fun games and family programs available made our journey a little easier.” Being surrounded by family while Hector Jr. was in the hospital was crucial for the Cernas, “We live two and half hours away from Iowa City and to have my family with us at the Ronald McDonald House kept us strong and pushed us through difficult days” said Alicia.
Looking back on her two month stay, Alicia fondly remembers the Ronald McDonald House staff and volunteers playing an important part in her family’s journey. “Not once did I see anybody unwilling to help us. My questions were always answered, our rooms were cozy, and everyone was so friendly. Words will never be enough to describe the gratitude our family has towards this charity. I hope to one day give a little back in return for everything that was done for my family.”