Isabella Santos Foundation’s July Takeover of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte

The Isabella Santos Foundation is providing an extra layer of support for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte for July, August and September!  Ronald McDonald House provides a safe and caring home for families who have children receiving medical treatment in the Charlotte area. Our ISF team had a blast this past Thursday taking over the house! We were able to provide accommodations for 28 wonderful families for the night! A yummy picnic dinner was provided by our friends from Jersey Mikes. To finish off the evening we watched a Pixar classic, A Bug’s Life, in the movie room with popcorn, candy, and games! Our team had the best time providing that little extra love to families who need constant support during this difficult time. There are so many ways you can get involved with RMH, check out their Wish List and other ways to help these families. There’s more to come, we are hijacking the house again in August to help support families away from home.  Can’t wait to share with you. Check out our video recap below.

Meet Carysn Pendley and her family! Check out her story and why it is so important to support the Ronald McDonald House.

Expecting a child should be a time of joy, excitement and anticipation to build early bonds. However, when the Pendley family learned that their daughter Carsyn would be born with spina bifida, everything changed. 

“The doctor explained that once Carsyn was born, she would need immediate spinal cord closure surgery, a possible shunt inserted in her brain, and she would be in the hospital two weeks or more as she healed,” said Carsyn’s father, Ryan. 

Living an hour away from Levine Children’s Hospital, the Pendleys were concerned about how they would be able to visit Carsyn daily. They considered staying at hotels nearby but knew those costs would quickly add up. Plus, they also had 9-year-old Brenden to look after. 

Times like these are far too common for families with children requiring medical attention. Luckily, Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte is available to keep families close when they need it most. 

The Pendleys quickly realized that the Ronald McDonald House was so much more than just a room to sleep in and a place to shower. There was a fully stocked kitchen, laundry and game room, plus the entire House was filled with compassionate and supportive people. 

“Having a place to rest and recharge like the Ronald McDonald House was vital in helping my wife and I get through what ended up being a 10-day stay in the NICU for our daughter,” Ryan says. “Today, Carsyn is thriving despite all of this. She has made great strides—[actually] walking and running, neither of which she was supposed to be able to do! We will be forever thankful for the care Carsyn received and for the support and shelter of the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.”

Thank you to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte’s staff and volunteers for everything you do! See you in August!

Give Back to Families Away From Home During the Holidays

Holidays can be difficult for families with a child fighting cancer. While many of us continue with our family traditions, many families will have to spend their holidays away from home. Ronald McDonald Houses across the nation are a place for families to stay, feel comfortable and feel safe. A home away from home.

Here in Charlotte we are grateful to have the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte and their incredible staff. Locate your local house to inquire about what you can do to give back this holiday season. A couple ideas:

1. Cook dinner for families staying in the house. This is one of our favorite things to do as a group. Cook as a team from work or as a family. You will have so much fun!

2. Ronald McDonald houses have an ongoing Wish List of items they need to help the house run day to day. Toilet paper, deodorant, trash bags, ect. Pick some items from the list, take your child to help you shop, and drop off at your local Ronald McDonald house.

3. Do you have a business with event or sports tickets? While in town, families need to get out of the house. Donate your basketball or play tickets to help keep families keep their mind off the reason they are in town.

Isabella and her family stayed often at the Ronald McDonald House New York while being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Ronald McDonald Houses play a significant and important role for families and we appreciate everything they do for communities.

And the 2012 Isabella Santos award goes to…. Chrissy Bush


RMDH_small-logoNow that we have fully recovered, we thought we would share the amazing night that we had last Thursday at the Ronald McDonald House Girl’s Night Out.  The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte out-did themselves once again by providing a night of Glamour and Giving at the Filmore for 500 women.  We were so honored to be the presenting sponsor for the second year in a row for them since they are so near and dear to our hearts.  The Ronald McDonald House was such an integral part of Isabella’s treatment over the years and so much of her treatment was made possible through their homes in New York and Philadelphia.

There is just something magical about getting all these women together for a great cause.  Food, drinks, silent auction items, high end fashion raffles, fashion shows and most importantly touching stories from different women who have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.  We all loved watching these women walk the runway, some hand in hand with their own children as we all cried and clapped in amazement of these families and the organization that supported them.

E-SantosThe event carved out some time for us to introduce ourselves to the audience as well.  We are so proud of our new video that was created and we were excited to premiere it that night to them all.  The video does a wonderful job of really showing people who we are and what we do.  Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the house.  By the time that Erin Santos was announced, the crowd was on their feet.  It was a touching moment for us all.

This year there was also a new exciting addition to the event with the first annual Isabella Santos Award.  They came to us with the idea of presenting an Isabella award to woman in the community who possessed the same values as Isabella.  The hope of the award was to reward someone who lives a life with the same dreams and aspirations of Isabella and who is really trying to make a difference in the world.  We were so thrilled about the idea and were excited as we started to see the nominations come in.

A couple of days before the nomination period ended, a beautiful nomination came across to us and we were taken back by it.  It was a no brainer for us at the Isabella Santos Foundation because we were very familiar with the incredible lady.  Many of you knew Isabella’s best friend, Chrissy Bush from Erin’s writings over the years.  Chrissy is such an inspiration to many of us because of her selfless giving.  Her quiet giving has blown us away over the years from afar.  We have watched her get up at 5am for 7 years to cook for the homeless on Saturday mornings, she volunteers each week at the free health clinic to assist in providing medical care for those in need, she fosters animals who need homes, she runs a diabetes camp in the summer for children and the list goes on and on.  The best thing about Chrissy is that she never tells you that she does these things.  She does them because she honestly just has an amazing heart and wants no recognition for it.  And let’s not forget the thing that has touched all of us at ISF the most.. her love of Isabella.  She knew Isabella’s story was not going to end well but she still opened her heart to her and provided her with comfort, love and support like she were her own daughter.

The best part of giving the award to Chrissy was the complete surprise that it was that evening.  Chrissy probably wouldn’t of even showed up that night if she caught wind of us giving her this award.  As Erin read out her list of accomplishments from the stage, those around her saw the emotional collapse that followed as she received a standing ovation from the audience as she came on stage to collect her award.   For us there is nothing better than people like Chrissy and Isabella in this world and they should be recognized for what they provide to our communities.  I know so many of us strive to be more like them each and every day.

Through all the hard work, we were so thrilled with how the event turned out and can’t wait to hear how much was raised for the house in Charlotte.  🙂  Thank you so much to the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte for allowing us to be a part of your amazing event again this year.  We look forward to many more years of partnerships with you!

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