Alex Walters - Keeping Hope Alive

Alex Walter was born suffering from pulmonary altresia, a congenital heart defect. Since that day 17 years ago Alex has not known a single day free from needles, medication, or scars. After 11 years of treatment and six surgeries, Alex received a new heart and he and his family were hopeful for a healthier future.

Then just one year ago, Alex was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma—a form of muscle cancer. As of today, he had endured just half of the prescribed 48 weeks of chemotherapy. The ongoing treatments are grueling and complicated, and come with terrible side effects such as hair loss, vomiting, and exhaustion.

Throughout all of this, Ronald McDonald House at Stanford has been there to offer love and support for Alex and his family.

While Alex’s family circumstances are uncommon and complex compared to most, every night at the House there are 46 additional families managing equally challenging conditions. Stop for a minute and imagine the unique struggles each family faces while fighting for their child’s life.

Last night, there were three families with children waiting for new hearts, and four other families with children recovering from recent heart transplants. There were eight families with children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for conditions such as premature birth and gatroschisis. Ten additional families were here with children whose heart conditions require surgery. Five additional familie have children awaiting liver transplants and six more families were here with children who recently received stem cell transplants to fight cancer.

Every one of our 47 families has left the comfort and security of their home and community and traveled to Palo Alto to pursue the best medical care available for their child’s critical illness. Pediatric medical procedures are often difficult and complex, and many families stay with us for extended periods of time—some for more than a year.

Families often come to us worried and fearful, but something magical happens when they arrive.

At the House, families become part of a special community to keep families close—to each other and the hospital. On any given day this dynamic is evident in the way families interact and support each other. Siblings such as Alex and his brother Ryan ride bikes together and play hoops with smiles on their faces because the House provides a much-needed break from hospitals, doctors, and painful treatments.

Families come to the House to wash their clothes, enjoy a hot meal or cup of coffee, and get much-needed sleep. But they come away with so much more—the comfort and care that only a Ronald McDonald House community can provide.

Together, families celebrate birthdays, good medical outcomes, and countless other milestones with the ones they love, filling the House with laughter and sounds of kids being kids and new friends inspiring each other.

Families are grateful for being together at this extraordinary place they call home. They understand it takes a generous community to keep families close and hope alive.

During this season of giving, please give as generously as you can.

Families who stay at the House are asked to pay only $10 per night, but in reality, less than 30 percent of our families can afford to do so. No family is ever turned away due to their inability to pay.

Our actual operating cost is $134 per room, per night. We count on the generosity of our loyal donors to help close the gap between operating costs and any room fees collected. Your gift will help ensure that we can continue to provide services for families, regardless of their ability to pay.