Mary and Pam’s Story

  A community of support.

Mary and Pam

Mary and her mom, Pam, found a community of support at Ronald McDonald House after traveling to Louisville, KY from Pittsburgh, PA for Mary’s medical care.

Mary and Pam

Mary and her mom, Pam, found a community of support at Ronald McDonald House after traveling to Louisville, KY from Pittsburgh, PA for Mary’s medical care.

Before Mary’s accident, I would have seen myself volunteering to serve a meal at a Ronald McDonald House at Christmas, not receiving one. But last year, we found ourselves on the receiving end of that gift. On August 30, 2020, our 13-year-old daughter Mary was happily jumping on her trampoline when she suffered a sudden, rare, and devastating stroke in her spinal cord. Within hours, my beautiful, joyous, active, healthy, life-loving girl became paralyzed from the middle of her chest to her toes. We were heart-broken, terrified, and in shock.

We were in hospitals for four months.

Mary doing a handstand

After critical care in our home city of Pittsburgh, and months of inpatient treatment in Philadelphia, Mary needed more specialized care for her recovery and life. I painfully discovered the difficult search to find it. By God’s grace, we learned about Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, KY from a local friend. Her son received treatment there, after a spinal cord stroke, and her family had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. Thankfully, Frazier accepted Mary into their therapy program, and we arrived five days before Christmas.

As Mary’s mom, taking care of her by myself after the accident terrified me. For months, I had received help from nursing staff and now, her complex care issues were left to me. Without a car, without family, with just us – how would we manage without a live-in medical team? Thankfully, Frazier connected us to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana (RMHCK) who bridged the gap from fear to freedom.

After critical care in our home city of Pittsburgh, and months of inpatient treatment in Philadelphia, Mary needed more specialized care for her recovery and life. I painfully discovered the difficult search to find it. By God’s grace, we learned about Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, KY from a local friend. Her son received treatment there, after a spinal cord stroke, and her family had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. Thankfully, Frazier accepted Mary into their therapy program, and we arrived five days before Christmas.

As Mary’s mom, taking care of her by myself after the accident terrified me. For months, I had received help from nursing staff and now, her complex care issues were left to me. Without a car, without family, with just us – how would we manage without a live-in medical team? Thankfully, Frazier connected us to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana (RMHCK) who bridged the gap from fear to freedom.

RMHCK became a place for respite. Pushing Mary down the sidewalk, after day-long therapy, we would see the place we called home and sigh with relief. We had so much to worry about, and yet we had so much to be grateful for within those walls. Best of all, we had each other.

RMHCK was a place to gain strength. After making friendships with the families staying there, I learned what a blessing it was to be part of a family of people leaning on one another during the brokenness of life. We could gather for meals and connect with the volunteers who honestly made us feel like the privileged ones. They were so genuinely happy to be serving, we couldn’t help but feel moved.

RMHCK was a place for family. While the Ronald McDonald House was decorated like a dollhouse for the Christmas season and everyone was in the spirit, all Mary wanted was to go home. In the pandemic world, many things had become impossible, and so much of normal life seemed out of reach. But the magic of Christmas and RMHCK brought the most special gift.

Pam and Mary looking at one another

Mary’s brothers drove through a snowstorm to be with her. Her dad brought Ava, Mary’s much-loved dog, who was in the end stage of her
life. We were together at RMHCK. We didn’t need anything else for Christmas. Mary’s heart was full and that made our hearts so very happy.

RMHCK became a place for respite. Pushing Mary down the sidewalk, after day-long therapy, we would see the place we called home and sigh with relief.

Mary and I left Louisville in March 2021 after spending 89 days at RMHCK. Ava had waited for us, and having seen her girl again, passed away three days later. Since then, Mary graduated from the 8th grade, started high school, joined the robotics team, and is volunteering at the local humane society. We have been graciously welcomed back to both Frazier and RMHCK to continue the next steps of Mary’s journey to walk – on the same streets she’s crossed in her wheelchair.

Thank you for the love and hope you gave us.

You are why RMHCK is more than a house. You are why families, like ours, can rely on RMHCK to be there for them in their time of need. Your gift can change the lives of families who called RMHCK home. Please consider giving a gift TODAY that will help keep families together when they need it most.

We hope to see you soon – with Mary standing in places she couldn’t before, with her new puppy, Buddy.

Love,

Pam and Mary's signature
Pam Surano, Mary maloney, and family

P.S. Your gift today will help families celebrate the holidays together.



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