Mara’s Story

Written by Mara, May 7, 2024Mara & Dad walk

My name is Mara, I’m currently 16 years old and live in a small village in Bavaria in Germany. I have an older sister, Carolin, she is my everything. Two years ago, in March 2022 she moved to the United States after she fell in love and married a soldier. In August 2021, my parents and me flew over to her and spend 4 weeks with her, we had the best time ever.

In 2023, I wanted to see her again, this time, because the money was a little short for all three of us to fly again, I worked and saved all my money to be able to fly over again.

Now you have to understand that it is a really big thing in Germany for a 15-year-old to go flying alone, especially if the flights to the other side of the world and they were to catch a connecting flight on the 6th biggest airport in the world. But I did it anyways and I am kind of proud of that.

I was supposed to stay in the states for 6 weeks but already in the second week everything changed forever for me:

Me, my sis and her husband visited his family in Ohio and all of us drove to west Virginia for a trip which was only supposed to last the weekend. We had rented an Airbnb in the forest and decided to go look for some action on the second day. We went to snowshoe and rented some mountain bikes for the next day because it was one of my hobbies in Germany.

The next day we went biking and then it happened:  I fell.

Because of a terrible pain in my stomach and the fact that I was constantly vomiting somebody called an ambulance and they brought me and my sister to the next hospital: Pocahontas Memorial. They completed a CT scan and after finding out I had a liver rupture they called an air ambulance which brought me and my sister to Carilion Clinic in Roanoke.

I don’t want to go into detail, but I spend 3 days in the ICU, got blood transfusions and almost lost my live from inner bleeding.

While I was in the hospital my sister’s husband and his dad who drove after us slept in the Ronald McDonald Houses, we were so happy to find out about a place to stay for free.

Even though there were more important things to worry about, it surely was one thing less to worry about.


Then there were my parents…

Now imagine getting a call that your daughter that is on the other side of the world is fighting for her life after having an accident and now having internal bleeding.

So, they booked the next flight available and came.

When I was released from the hospital, I wasn’t allowed to leave the city because of my injuries and the Ronald McDonald House allowed us to stay longer.

The day I came out the hospital, my sister had to go away because of business, her husband and his dad were already away, so it was only my parents and me still staying in the city.

Now you have to understand that me and my sister have a really strong bond and while I was in the hospital she was always around, even slept there.

When me and my parents were alone in Roanoke waiting for the doctor’s appointment in one week, we didn’t know yet if we would have to stay longer, if they would send me back with my parents, if I would see my sister again before I had to leave…the mood between me and my parents had been tense that week.  Then I finally had the appointment and they allowed me to leave the city and go back to Ohio to see my sister and everyone else. My parents had to leave early because of work, I had to stay longer because of my injuries.

Eventually I flew back home, got well again, started making some sport again, not biking of course.

Now I’m sixteen and all fine. Then I got the email from RMHC-SWVA, asking if I would share my story.  The first thing I thought of was the mood between me and my parents, then I remembered something else…

Beautiful sunsets, rabbits from the upper woods sitting in the garden and staff and volunteers always helping. They brought us games to play, there was always food in the fridge or cooked freshly and they many times they had to give us the second key because we forgot ours in our room again.

You were catching us when it seemed for us like everything was falling.

We will forever be thankful for everything, and we’ll always remember it.

I wish only the best to every family that has a child in the hospital and that everything will change to the better eventually.

Only the best wishes to the wonderful staff and all the volunteers, you’re doing an incredible job!