Why should I support
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis? This is a question we face every
day in a city blessed with so many wonderful foundations and outreach programs.
Other arrangements can be made for families traveling to Memphis while their
child fights for their life, but the intangibles offered at Ronald McDonald
House of Memphis can’t be matched.
This is the story of
a 16-year-old boy from a small town in Mississippi whose life was forever
changed by cancer.
“They thought I had
stretched ligaments or something along those lines,” Jamie Rutland said. “They
put me through four or five weeks of physical therapy, but things didn’t get
At a loss, his
hometown doctors performed a series of x-rays. The next morning Jamie and his
mother were at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s doors at 6 a.m. with a
diagnosis of osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer common among
children, in his left shoulder.
A few days later, St.
Jude doctors removed Jamie’s shoulder during an intense eight-hour surgery,
replaced it with a plastic substitute and his road to recover began.
Normally, this is
the part where we tell you about welcoming the Rutland family to Ronald
McDonald House of Memphis and about all of the great things that we were able
to provide them with during this very challenging time in their lives.
Jamie’s diagnosis took place in the summer of 1982, a year before the discussion
of building a Ronald McDonald House began and nine years before Ronald McDonald
House of Memphis would opened its doors.
mother stayed miles away at a small, old hotel in Memphis with security bars on
all of the windows, while Jamie had to reside at the hospital for the majority
of his treatment.
Jamie and his mother
stayed in Memphis for the next 22 months, returning home to Leland, Miss., on
weekends that the doctors would allow him to travel. The eight-hour roundtrip
journey was hard on Jamie and his mother, but it was the only option they had
to see their whole family.
“There was nothing
like Ronald McDonald House of Memphis when we were staying in Memphis,” Jamie
said. “This place is a huge deal for families, especially those without the
money to afford a place to stay. A lot of times my mom would just sleep
downstairs in the hospital clinic on one of the benches.”
Being from a small
town of 8,000 people, Jamie’s mother didn’t feel comfortable driving in a large
metropolitan area like Memphis, so she instead relied on public transportation.
This little difference turned a 10 minute drive into a much longer commute,
which made returning to the hotel from the hospital between treatments to
freshen up or take care of some laundry much more difficult and time consuming.
Today, families are
offered dedicated transportation services to the hospital and back as well as
to local convenience and grocery stores so that they can make the most of their
“The amenities that
families are offered at Ronald McDonald House of Memphis are fabulous,” Jamie
said. “The ease that a home-like setting brings to a family, instead of staying
in a hotel is amazing. You never see a frowning face [at Ronald McDonald House
of Memphis], everyone is always smiling and hopeful.”
“At 16, it didn’t
really sink in what was going on, but when I started to lose my hair the first
time it really hit me,” he said. “It would have been great to have been
surrounded by other kids in a casual setting when I was going through it all.”
40-year-old woman out a small Mississippi town to bring her kid to Memphis and
put her in a hotel all day, it’s tough,” he said. “Those four walls will start
to close in on you. At Ronald McDonald House you have a kitchen, living
quarters and a laundry room. There you can move around and meet other people
that are going through the same thing as you.”
“I just wish they
had a house like Ronald McDonald House of Memphis when I was a kid,” he said.
“It would have made my mom’s life so much easier. My dad worked four hours away
and we didn’t know anyone. Today, Ronald McDonald House of Memphis is like a
Jamie graduated from
Ole Miss and then moved to Memphis 1989. His main goal was to give back as
much as he could to the city that helped save his life. Today, Jamie works for
Ford and is part of the Memphis Area Ford Dealers that are sponsoring the Drive
It Home Vehicle Raffle benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis.
For more information visit DriveItHomeMemphis.com.
The real magic of Ronald McDonald House of Memphis
isn’t that it offers families a place to live; it’s the fact that it offers
families a “home-away-from-home” together with other families fighting