Keeping families together
For children receiving life changing hospital treatment, knowing their families are staying close by can make all the difference. Summer and her family spent four months at Ronald McDonald House at South Brisbane, 2,000km from their home, while she was undergoing treatment on her leg at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in 2020. Ronald McDonald House Charities SEQ (RMHC SEQ) provides a home away for home for families when they need it most.
Over the past 10 years, Transurban has supported RMHC SEQ and children like Summer, raising over $1.7 million for the charity. And in 2022 Team Transurban will again be running in support of RMHC SEQ.
For almost nine years, Summer had lived as near a normal life as possible while having one leg four centimetres shorter than the other.
While it hadn’t stopped her running, jumping or climbing like any girl her age, it had the potential to impact her later in life unless managed through surgery.
For her parents Shannah and Michael, and younger sister Skylah, the knowledge that one day Summer would need major surgery to lengthen her leg — and a lengthy stay in hospital following surgery — had always been on the horizon. In early 2020, as restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic were enforced across Queensland, the family was told that day had come.
“It had always been a waiting game,” says Shannah. “We knew that once we got that call, there’d be a chance that we’d be up and heading down to Brisbane very, very quickly for surgery.”
When the call came, the family had to pack their bags and prepare for the almost 2,000km journey to Brisbane — where they would likely have to say for a minimum of four months.
“At first we were given a list of accommodation that was close to the Children’s Hospital that would be suitable,” Shannah recalls.
“Michael and I went through some of them and found a lot of them couldn’t really accommodate Summer with her wheelchair. I was worried we wouldn’t find anywhere that we could afford and where we could be together which was really important for us, especially for Summer and Skylah who are really close to one another and fret if they’re apart.”
Shannah and Michael spoke to hospital staff who recommended they contact Ronald McDonald House: good news was only moments away.
“I got an email saying that our accommodation had been approved and that we would be staying at the Ronald McDonald House for the whole duration of her treatment.,” says Shannah.
“And that was just the best news to know that we were going to be able to all be together. And the location of the House — we couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Their experience has been highly positive.
“It was like walking into somewhere that is home. That is safe. That is comfortable. It was very practical, we could come and just make ourselves at home.”
Having RMHC SEQ staff and volunteers close at hand also meant the world to Shannah and Michael as Summer embarked on her treatment.
“Having people there all the time and they all make you feel just so comfortable enough to be able to go and ask a question, anything at all. It has a really great feel to the place. They’re there for you, and that means so much.”
Summer is making positive progress following her surgery.
“The doctors are really happy with how she’s been recovering and how the bones have been developing. I don’t think we’ll ever forget Ronald McDonald House and the people there. It’s been the best experience under the circumstances that you could possibly have. We can’t fault it. It makes me want to give back and tell everyone I know to support them, donate, give something to something that is so very special.”
Transurban Queensland Group Executive Sue Johnson said Transurban Queensland was proud to be raising money to help children like Summer and her family stay together.
“Last year our 200 strong Team Transurban raised a record breaking $400,000 for RMHC SEQ, funding their in-hospital emergency accommodation at the Queensland Children’s Hospital for another year.
“This year we’re celebrating 10 years of support for RMHC SEQ, so our team is gearing up to raise even more money for this important charity who provide a home away from home for families with a seriously ill child undergoing hospital treatment.”