Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana (RMHCK) is more than a house. It’s a community of support. On March 15, we began putting in place restrictions at our House to combat the spread of COVID-19. With these restrictions came the suspension of our Adopt-A-Meal program. Prior to March 15, community groups would provide hot, home-cooked meals to the families staying at RMHCK. As more and more restrictions were placed on restaurants and hospital cafeterias in Kentucky, finding a hot meal became increasingly difficult for our families that were hundreds of miles away from their home.
That’s when our friends at Salsarita’s decided it was time to put on their thinking caps, and masks, and get to work. “My heart was broken when I heard that families would go without food”, Dave Spoelker, Guest Relations Manager at Salsarita’s said. He knew he had to do something to help. That’s when he enlisted Pam Stallings, Chief Marketing Officer of Salarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill – Louisville, to help him find a way to give back to the families who were staying at RMHCK.
Choosing RMHCK to support was easy for them. Both Pam and Dave have a personal connection to Ronald McDonald House and have been on the receiving end of the community’s generosity.
“My daughter, Samantha, was diagnosed with a kink in her brainstem here in Louisville the summer of 2006 – with nowhere to turn locally we found Dr. Arnold Menezes at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. Samantha’s health journey has included 15 surgeries. Her condition, Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS) is so rare that it was only described and named in 2005. She was diagnosed four years ago, at age 23, even though her symptoms began when she was born”.
Pam and her family stayed at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois for about a year. During that time they were able to stay close to Samantha while she received medical care. They relied on the services provided at Ronald McDonald House, allowing them to focus solely on their daughter. Once they were able to manage Samantha’s care in Louisville, they came back home and immediately started brainstorming ways to pay it forward and help other families who need the services of Ronald McDonald House. As a family, they hosted Pajama Nights to raise money and collect pantry items.
Dave’s story is more recent. In November 2019, Dave’s son Doug and his wife, Chelsea, gave birth to their second daughter, Stella. Stella was born with Trisomy 18, meaning she had an extra chromosome 18, disrupting the normal pattern of development in significant ways. Stella received care at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital while her family, including her two-year-old sister, Adelaide, stayed nearby at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati to be close to Stella. Dave and his wife, Anita, would visit from time to time to give Chelsea and Doug some much-needed respite and would look over Adelaide.
Stella, unfortunately, passed away on December 18, 2019.
Dave and his family fight to keep Stella’s memory alive by giving back and helping families that are in similar situations. They turned their grief and sadness to purpose.
Both Pam and Dave understand first hand the importance of a fully stocked pantry, home-cooked meals, and community support. That’s why they decided to help support our Adopt-A-Meal program and donate a fully catered Salsarita’s Taco Bar for dinners. “Everyone has an instinct to give back, and we were glad we found a way to help families during these challenging times”, Dave said. “We don’t know where we would be without the Ronald McDonald House, we’re happy we found a way to be there for them”.
Salsarita’s continues to find ways to support RMHCK and the families we serve. On November 24, they are hosting a Taco Tuesday Give Back event where a portion of sales will benefit the House. Use code RMHC when checking out online or mention Ronald McDonald House if heading to the stores for take-out. You can also send meals to our families! Contact your local store or click here to learn more.
We are so incredibly grateful to have supporters like Pam and Dave, who work hard to give back to those who need it most. Thank you for all you do for our House and the families we serve.