by Ann Jerome
This week, the city of Austin is filled with super-charged energy, rock stars, movie stars, technology titans, pulsating “live” music on every corner and slower than normal traffic (if you can believe that!). It’s spring break so everyone is in a pretty laid back mood re-charging for spring, and here that also means it’s time for the annual, larger than life South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) that is growing so large it has its own CNN newsfeed.
For me, it’s been a long week. Personally, I have lived some fun times vicariously through my sons’ travels and adventures. Griffin, a musician, has been traveling through Morocco and Casablanca this week having the trip of a lifetime, and Brandon, a 6th grader, has just returned from a school sponsored trip to Boston having what is so far the trip of his lifetime with many more adventures ahead.
Professionally though its been a week filled with tough conversations with guest families of three other boys: 15 year old Justin, 7 year old Karaek, and 10 month old Brandon who are all facing huge medical challenges and whose families are having very different life experiences right now. There are twenty other families here too, and I’m not even sure they are aware of all the excitement happening just blocks away because of SXSW. When your child or grandchild is sick there is nothing more that is on your heart and mind. The rest of the world’s happenings and the days of the week passing by are like worlds away.
Each has told me that they are so grateful for the Ronald McDonald House, the meals provided for them each day by volunteers, the closeness to the hospital where all three families have put their ultimate trust, the proximity to a running path that helps one grandpa stay sane and energized, and the support of the other families who are in the trenches like themselves. Listening to them helps keep life and this crazy week in perspective.
It’s been a long week for me but even longer for the families. I’m glad we’re here for these boys and the hundreds of other children whose parents will stay at our Ronald McDonald House or visit the Ronald McDonald Family Rooms this year. I’m proud to be a part of the team here in Austin and worldwide that cares for them and provides a bright spot, and I’m thankful the community deems our work and mission as important and worthy of their financial support, time and care.