June 25, 2002
'House that love built' provides shelter, compassion for families of hospitalized children
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—When Dan and Sheila Fulton arrived at Methodist Rehabilitation Center to be with their 17 year-old son, they never wanted to leave his room.
In March, while competing in a rodeo in Louisville, Bradley Fulton was kicked in the head by a horse and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Since then he has been a patient in the brain injury program at the Jackson hospital.
But during the long days and nights at Methodist Rehab, the Fultons have been able to find the comforts of home without having to make the 90-mile trip back to their home in Louisville.
They are one of many families who have benefited from the Ronald McDonald House. Since 1989, the house has provided a home away from home for families from all over the state who have children in Jackson-area hospitals.
“At first, we didn’t ever want to leave Bradley, but it really helped to have somewhere to go to get away from the hospital environment and just to get cleaned up,” said Sheila Fulton.
Having a child in the hospital is difficult enough without being far away from the support of family and friends, said Paige Christopher, events coordinator for the house.
“Here, they’re able to share with the other families who are going through similar ordeals,” she added. Up to 16 families stay at the house at one time.
There is an $8 per night fee, but often the philanthropic efforts of area businesses and individuals mean that families can stay at no cost.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the generosity of the people who are always donating their time and money to us,” Christopher said. “Probably more than half of our families wouldn’t be able to afford to stay here, but contributions from the community mean that we never have to turn a family away for financial reasons.”
Area civic and church groups also contribute food and often prepare meals for families at the house.
“Everyone at the Ronald McDonald House was so caring and nice while we were there,” said Sheila Fulton. “Sometimes it helps just being able to have some place quiet to go or to sit down and eat a meal when you’ve been in and out of the hospital for so long.”
For Bradley the struggle to recover from the accident continues. His parents have returned to work, and are now making the long drive from Louisville to be with their son.
For them and for countless others, the house that love built has not only provided shelter, but also compassion.
“For more than 13 years the Ronald McDonald House has served as a home away from home for so many of our families,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of Methodist Rehab. “The staff's dedication and compassion to people who are struggling to deal with perhaps the worst tragedies in their lives is unparalleled."
This weekend, Ronald McDonald House is holding a kid’s triathlon at the Courthouse Racquet Club on Lakeland Drive in Flowood at 8 a.m. Children ages 7-10 will swim 100 yards, bike 3.1 miles and run a little more than a half-mile. Kids ages 11-14 will race twice as far.
Sammy Safety, Methodist Rehab’s injury prevention mascot, will also be at the triathlon to remind children to always think first about safety and to make sure that all competitors are wearing bicycle helmets.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Christopher said. “Kids of all ages will enjoy this event and we’re looking forward to having Sammy Safety with us Saturday.”
For more information:
Respite provided since 1989 | The Clarion-Ledger
Ronald McDonald House