From Alumni Families

When I was pregnant, my first trimester screen came back higher risk for Down Syndrome, and when I was 28 weeks pregnant, we went for the fetal echo and found that our Sophie had a heart defect. My OB preferred that I deliver at Strong, just in case she needed surgery right away. She didn’t want me being separated from my baby. We live in Vernon.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant, I started not feeling well. I was in so much pain that I could barely breathe. I went to the hospital in Oneida and they thought it was my gallbladder, so I stayed there through the day and night. Monday morning, they told me they wanted me to go to Rochester to be seen at Strong and sent me to triage. When I arrived, they were waiting for me and the secretary knew exactly who I was. I thought, “This is not good.”

Within a few hours of arriving, they told me that I had a lot of defining symptoms of HELLP syndrome and severe pre-eclampsia. This means my liver could have burst. I was 34 weeks. When your baby has a heart defect, every day being pregnant counts. They admitted me to a high-risk, anti-partum unit in late February and told me they wanted me to make it to 36 weeks because of her heart. I only made it until Thursday, March 3.

Sophie was born at 9:24 pm. She was five weeks and one day early. She did great, but had to go to the NICU for being so premature. They did bloodwork on her and we found out about a week after she was born that she did have Down Syndrome, on top... Read More

On July 25, my son Cody was born at Strong at 25 weeks gestational. He was 1 pound, 14.7 ounces. There was no reason for his early birth, but it was life changing for us all.

We got to know the Ronald McDonald House because I was discharged from the hospital myself, but emotionally I could not leave—not knowing hour by hour if he was going to survive. Our social worker, Jessica, made a call and got us into the Ronald McDonald House for a couple of days the first time, and then when my son had his hernia surgery, I was able to stay once again.

RMHC means a lot. It will always be in our hearts because they were there when we needed the care and a step away from the crisis and life. It was so refreshing and just something that helped us—seeing something so beautiful at such a horrible time in our life.

It was just a wonderful experience. Every employee was there to talk when you wanted to. Sometimes it was nice to just express our thoughts and feelings with someone who was not our family, because they are all involved emotionally.

If I had to describe RMHC in one word, I would choose loving. We loved it so much that when I had to leave my job, due to my son’s needs, I felt like I needed to be a part of the Ronald McDonald House. Now, I am employed in the House Within the Hospital—so the House is helping my family once again.

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The first time I stayed at RMHC was in 2012. My son Isaiah needed open heart surgery as soon as possible.  

As soon as I got to the House Within the Hospital, I was immediately welcomed and helped to feel as comfortable as possible after just giving birth a week before. It was nice to have access to a pump so I did not have to go far and I was able to be ready for when he could nurse.

Even after moving to the Westmoreland House off campus, everyone was still very caring and attentive. It was also nice to have transportation to and from hospital since I was there by myself.

The second time we stayed at RMHC was in 2013, when there was a death in my family back home. All the volunteers were so helpful during this time. They also were very understanding when I had to go home for a day.

The home-like feeling of the houses made it so much easier to be so far away from home with no family with me. I am so thankful for the warm dinners that meant there could be something besides hospital food and vending-machine snacks.

Today Isaiah is a happy 4-year-old who loves his preschool!


We have a 6-year-old and our daughter, Sawyer, who’s now one. When we had Sawyer last July, she ended up needing open heart surgery at two weeks old—so we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester.

My first impression of the House was that it’s really nice and homey. Everybody was so nice and it was such a big stress relief to not have to worry about where we were staying or where our food was coming from because we really weren’t prepared for anything like this. It was nice to have that burden taken off of us.

During our stay, we made a lot of friends and met another family who we were really close with. I was there by myself a lot of the time, too, because my fiancé works and our older daughter wasn’t there, so it was nice to make connections with people and have friends.

When I was first told about RMHC, I expected it to be a room with a bed. I didn’t think there would be a kitchen and a playroom and an outside. I had no idea how nice and homey it was going to be and how many amenities they were going to have. I had a nice bed to sleep in every night, my own room where I could just get away from everything, access to laundry and families cooked for us almost every night. It was amazing not having to worry about going to buy food or having to eat out every night. 

The new Family Room at Golisano Children’s Hospital was nice, as well—I could just go down and get some coffee while my daughter played in the sibling clubhouse so she... Read More

We first came to Ronald McDonald House in August of 2014. My son Brody and I arrived to Rochester via helicopter because a CT scan near us showed a mass in the back of his head. This was the beginning of our story—finding out that Brody has a type of brain tumor called medulloblastoma, and it would require surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. 

We live nearly three hours away, so traveling in every day was not an option. RMHC was dumped in our laps as a place to stay in Rochester. There were many things getting dumped on us at the time, and it was nice to have one that was a good thing! Having a place to stay for our entire family (four of us in total) is extremely helpful.

My first impression was one of feeling overwhelmed by everything going on, and then to have this amazing “house” available for us was indescribable. One less thing to worry about. The house, which is really like a house and a hotel all together, is perfect for families that really just want to be there for their kid’s stuff, not worrying about a place to stay or how to pay for it, or at least one meal a day.

RMHC is truly a home away from home for us. We walk in, are comfortable, recognized, and it feels like our second home at this point. There is a vast kitchen at our disposal, many family rooms (with TVs, movies, games and books), laundry, computers and of course the private rooms/bathrooms. Brody and I are partial to the big family room downstairs for watching movies!

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“We started staying at the Ronald McDonald House in 2000 when my son Ian Scott Hosler went into Strong Memorial Hospital for a liver transplant. We had been traveling to the hospital from Malone, N.Y., since February 1999, when he’d been diagnosed with a rare genetic urea cycle disorder, arginino succinic acid lyase deficiency. He was missing the #5 enzyme in his liver, which meant he was unable to break down protein.

The first time we stayed at the house, we were there for just about three months. Our first impression was that it was so much bigger than the one we had stayed at in Burlington, Vt.; however the welcoming feeling was the same.

RMHC is always great with making sure families have what they need during their stay—there are always goodies in the kitchen and most nights a hot meal is being served after a stressful day of being at the hospital, which gives you a break from eating cafeteria or vending-machine food. My son’s favorite part is the little play area off the kitchen! When we come back to the house after a long day, he goes in the play area and has a terrific time while I make us something to eat.

We have been making the trip to Strong for 18 years this coming February and have been staying at RMHC of Rochester for 16 years this September. There are a couple of people who have definitely helped us throughout the years, but the main one, I would have to say, would be Cher, the house manager. She has always gone out of her way to... Read More

At RMHC, our families mean everything to us. Michael Pingicer, a member of one of our past families, reached out to share his story. Read it below:

“Our daughter Hazel was born on December 17, 2014, with a severe life-threatening congenital heart defect called dextro-Transposition of the Great Arteries (d-TGA). She had a cardiac catheter procedure immediately after birth and then open heart surgery when she was five days old. My wife, Kelly, and I moved into a room at the House Within the Hospital when she was three days old and stayed for three weeks.

That winter was full of storms and lots of snow. When Kelly was seven months pregnant with Hazel, we moved to upstate New York for a new job and settled in Seneca Falls, about an hour east of Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong Memorial. In addition to the usual first-time parent nervousness, we were full of trepidation about our situation—we didn’t know many people in the area and we were filled with uncertainty about our baby’s health. By the time we got a room at RMHC, we were numb with worry and so very tired from the childbirth and all the tests they were doing with Hazel. It was such a relief to stay with RMHC, particularly the very special House Within the Hospital.  

The common areas immediately helped us to feel at home, with a warm and inviting atmosphere. It was just this incredible safety net where the staff knew what we needed almost before we did. There were so many little things... Read More

At RMHC, our families mean everything to us. Michael Yencer, a member of one of our past families, reached out to share his story. Read it below:

"On June 22, 2015, my wife, Brittany Yencer, was admitted to Strong Memorial Hospital with preeclampsia with HELP syndrome at a little over 25 weeks. Over the next couple of days, the doctors did what they could and on, June 25, 2015, Collin James Yencer was born at 1 lb. 2 oz. through an emergency C-section.

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At RMHC, our families mean everything to us. Tracey Purdy, a member of one of our past families, reached out to share her story. Read it below:

“Blake was born in Geneva, NY, in November 2012. At a week old, he was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital. During his stay, Blake was diagnosed with non-compaction cardiomyopathy and we were told he needed a heart transplant to survive. 

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