For Seth’s 16th birthday, he chose to celebrate it in a unique way. With our family by his side, he spent hours at the corner of two main highways in our hometown in Wisconsin with a banner that read “Seth’s Ronald McDonald House Supply Drive.” This came about when he was thinking about his upcoming birthday. Every year at this time, I (Seth’s mom) reflect about the start of treatment for the rare autoimmune diseases he has. This very week, eight years ago, Seth’s doctor told our family to go on vacation, make memories and celebrate his eighth birthday. He told us that when we return, we were going to have to start an aggressive experimental treatment. Weekly injections of the highest dose of low dose chemotherapy for a non-cancer patient would begin, along with his already harsh oral medications. There were many unknowns and the doctor was matter-of-fact that none of us had a clue what the future held. Now here we are celebrating another year of life! Seth remains on all those medications and more. We still regularly visit Mayo Clinic for all his medical care but thanks to God, and foremost, the amazing doctors at the Mayo Clinic, along with friends at the Ronald McDonald House, Seth is not only surviving but thriving!
Seth got to thinking about all the children at the Ronald McDonald House. He told me, “those kids might not have happy birthdays.” He said he wanted to give items to the House to make the kids happy instead of birthday gifts. He said, “Mom, I am so blessed, I don’t need anything.” Seth made a short video saying jut those words and posted it on his Facebook page. It quickly traveled across social media and we were told by a few that they were making monetary donations to the Ronald McDonald House in honor of Seth. A mention of this got printed in our newspaper and our small community once again rallied around his desire to give back. Our family, friends and neighbors were happy to participate.
For our most recent trip to the Ronald McDonald House, where we delivered all these generous birthday donations, over 150 pounds of pop tabs were collected. The owner of a local business, Trinity Homes, heard about Seth’s wish. The owner’s son, a classmate of Seth, shared Seth’s story with his mom who was personally touched. She donated an extremely generous shopping spree for the two boys to go and purchase items for the House. Seth received so many donations; it was quite obvious that a pull-behind trailer would be needed to transport all the items. U-Haul waived the rental fee for the 300-mile one-way-trip. There were many complete strangers that came out to that busy intersection that day. They came with items or cash to donate, but as they met Seth, felt compelled to leave with a hug and a word of encouragement. He was told by many that he inspired them. Many said they were proud of him and let him know they had been regularly praying for him. They encouraged him to keep fighting the good fight. This small gesture of a birthday wish of a young many brought out the best in others. It formed and strengthened many relationships, new and old. Who could ask for a better, more memorable birthday? That is a priceless gift that keeps on giving!
-Story shared by Seth’s mom, Julie Bayles
(As told by her mom)
Melissa Webb and her twin sister, Kaitlyn, were born in Stillwater, MN. Melissa developed a lump on her neck around age six and had two surgeries performed before coming to Mayo for a second opinion. We were thankful to get into the Ronald McDonald House right when we arrived in Rochester.
Melissa underwent a 10-hour tracheotomy surgery to remove a cyst followed by a 16 day stay at Saint Marys. The night before her release, I was lying with her when I began to pray. I asked that Melissa go home without machines to help her breathe. A bright light came over the room and I believe that angels were near. In the morning, my prayers were answered – the doctors told us that Melissa could remove her line and would be able to leave the hospital without the burden of any machines.
The House meant so much to us during this otherwise difficult time. The staff made us feel right at home during Melissa’s 16-day recovery. They are such caring people.
The girls are graduating high school this year and planned their graduation party with the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester in mind. They have asked everyone to bring a donation gift for the House. In past years, they have organized a garage sale and even saved up their birthday and Christmas money so that they could donate supplies for the wish list. We love supporting the Ronald McDonald House because it is very near and dear to our hearts. If it wasn’t for this wonderful place, we would have nowhere to stay while receiving care in Rochester.
Even with the discount, hotels still cost a lot of money. Food expenses, doctor bills, and transportation costs all add up too. When we left the Ronald McDonald House, we donated our remaining food to help another family in need. When we stayed here, they were so warm and kind and made you feel right at home. The Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, MN has helped a lot of people and continues to do amazing things.
Melissa reminds us that life is about helping others and being thankful for everything you have.
-Marilyn (Melissa + Kaitlyn’s Mom)