Written by Judy Hodges
April 10, 2019
Today marks a special anniversary for my husband and me. Parents of a sick child know this special anniversary well. It is the long awaited “finally going home day”.
In December 1981 our son was born fifteen weeks premature weighing 700 grams or a pound and a half. He was 11 inches long and his lungs were undeveloped. He spent 108 days in the intensive care nursery. Many long days with heart wrenching worry, but we never gave up hope. We brought our son home on April 10, 1982 and he grew into an incredible young man. He was a gift and his life brought joy to so many people with his generous nature, sense of humor, and gentle soul.
We moved to Roanoke in 2004 and the Ronald McDonald House became our charity of choice. The workings of the RMHC are dear to our family’s heart. It represents a home away from home where families can gather strength without the stress of where to eat or have a nutritious meal. When you have a sick child you transfer all your energy to their recovery. Many days I spent with my hand inside the isolette with my hand on this tiny precious body telling him to take all my strength to get stronger.
In 2005, my family had the privilege of helping to prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner to the families staying at the RM home in Roanoke. My son, Cory (then 23 years old), was serving a young couple. He asked about their child and they shared their concern about their pound and a half preemie. He pointed to his self and said, “This is what you have to look forward to.” Their expression changed from worry to Hope.
Sadly, we lost our dear Cory in a house fire in November of 2016. In his honor and memory we felt he would like his legacy to continue in the positive workings of the RM house. My husband lovingly transformed a bench and it now sits on the lawn at the RM house with the idea it may be a comforting and peaceful place to sit for families outside. Next to it sits a stone with the message, “Never Give up Hope.” Many of his friends and relatives have generously donated to the RMHC in his memory. We know in our hearts this is what he would want. We continue with this spirit to be actively involved in this home away from for families of sick children.
I work for the McKelvey Companies. Since 2005 they also have been a sponsor of RMHC events. May 2018, marked the first “a Night of Southern Comfort Gala” at Smith Mountain Lake. With an incredible group of volunteers and the generosity of Jim McKelvey, we raised over $13,000. In 2019, the event raised over $15,400 for RMHC in Roanoke.
My family continued as ambassadors for RMHC by setting up a vegetable stand in August/September 2020 and 2021 at the McKelvey Companies strip mall with my husband’s garden bounty.