The Collingwood family appreciates the help of Ronald McDonald House


“I don’t know what we would have done. We were really lucky in the end, ”says Collingwood’s father; McHappy Day will take place on September 22

Although the Ronald McDonald House Charity is an international non-profit organization, the ripple effect of the aid extends to Collingwood.

On September 22, McDonald’s restaurants across Canada will celebrate McHappy Day, where 10 percent of the day’s sales will be used to support the Ronald McDonald House (OMRM) charity.

As the Collingwood and Wasaga Beach locations prepare for this year’s event, a Collingwood family who spent five months at the OMRM Toronto home earlier this year are now settling into their new life. family of three thanks to the help provided by the beloved charity.

Jeff Gibbens and his fiancee Katrina Langdon first found out they were pregnant with daughter Isla in 2020, with a due date in March 2021.

However, they learned early on that something was wrong.

“We knew a bit ahead of time because during an ultrasound at about seven months old, we discovered that there was a large lump on Isla’s neck,” Gibbens said. “At that point, we knew we were going to Mount Sinai Hospital for delivery, and then we were immediately taken to the SickKids NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit).”

Gibbens said he and Langdon’s original plans were to stay in a hotel in Toronto, which would cost them around $ 1,000 a week, plus food and parking.

“If it was short term we could have been fine, but because it was long term there was just no way financially. We would have broken the bank, ”he said. “We were hoping for OMRM Toronto.

Gibbens said he was relieved when told they had been given a place in the house. He said they were originally told that Isla would be at SickKids for two to three months, but ultimately had to stay five months before being fired.

“I don’t know what we would have done. We were very lucky in the end. It all kind of lined up for us, ”he said. “To be honest, it was our only option, especially with COVID-19. “

The lump on Isla’s neck was a teratoma. Gibbens said surgery to remove it paralyzed one of his vocal cords and caused nerve damage. She is currently being fed using a gastrostomy tube.

“She will still have these issues but hopefully will come out of… the feeding tube,” Gibbens said. “She will eventually be able to talk and live a happier life.”

The Ronald McDonald House Artwork provides a place for families to stay together, near their sick child in hospital.

OMRM Toronto can accommodate 81 families. In 2019, OMRM Toronto served 5,350 families in 479 communities across Canada. Four of these families were from Collingwood and three were from Wasaga Beach.

According to a letter sent to potential donors, this year a family in need of assistance will be arriving on RMHC’s doorstep every 20 minutes, and last year, RMHC had to turn away 3,000 families in due to lack of space.

“There was everything you need. The food was great. They provided a meal plan and it was amazing. Anything that saved us time so we could spend more time with Isla and each other was so nice, ”Gibbens said. “They gave us the gift of time.

Gibbens said he is sometimes at a loss for words when it comes to what he thinks of the OMRM Toronto home as they helped him during a period of his life of such uncertainty. .

“I am so thankful and grateful. The whole program is so underrated, ”he said.

McDonalds employee Carly Bartoletti said the annual McHappy Day campaign is “an incredible cause,” and it’s a cause she supports.

Bartoletti worked at McDonald’s in Wasaga Beach for about eight years, before moving to the Collingwood location about a year ago. She has always been actively involved in fundraising for McHappy Day as McHappy Day Hero.

When she started working for McDonald’s she didn’t know much about McHappy Day, but over time seeing the good charities of Ronald McDonald Houses gave her perspective.

“I volunteered and got more information. The energy of the day … everything is so energetic and we made it amazing, ”she said.

Bartoletti said hearing stories about how relieving Ronald McDonald House can be for families makes a big difference to her.

“It will be a different kind of McHappy Day this year,” Bartoletti said. “It’s going to be hard to get past our fundraising (goals) from previous years, but we’ll at least try to match it.”

This year, McDonald’s in Collingwood and Wasaga Beach will partner with Manito Shrine Club for McHappy Day as a community partner.

McHappy Day, which typically raises $ 20,000 at the Collingwood and Wasaga Beach sites each year, typically takes place in May but has been suspended in 2020 due to security concerns related to COVID-19.

“Even this month of May would not have been possible. There has definitely been an impact on fundraising this year because of COVID-19, ”store supervisor Vince Schneider said. “We hope to raise $ 15,000 this year. “

For more information on how to donate beyond attending McHappy Day on September 22, you can visit the Collingwood / Wasaga Beach fundraising site here.

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