Ronald McDonald House

Caring Hearts, Caring Friends at the House That Love Built

August, 2007

By Gene Davis

Something Ronald McDonald House guests often tell us is that they are so grateful to have other families nearby that understand what they are going through and to share each other’s uncertain journeys. Often this bonding is so strong that families stay in close contact for years after meeting here.

The Walker family visiting baby Kiya in the hospital
The Walker family visiting baby Kiya in the hospital
The House brings people together from all over the world and from every walk of life. It is the common experience of having a seriously ill child that transcends all and allows people to see how similar we all really are.

This incredible power recently brought two families together from very different places, and with very different stories.

The Walker family from the Big Island and the Marlatts from California recently stayed at the House, both with premature babies at Kapiolani Hospital. Although they are from diverse races, cultures and places of origin, they formed a strong and immediate friendship, and by helping each other through their difficult times, they found the strength to endure their own situations.

Their stories in short: The Marlatt’s expected one–week Kona vacation turned into a three–month stay at the House when Heather Marlatt delivered their baby boy Austin three months prematurely.

Heather Marlatt shares hugs with Dee Walker and Dee’s two sons, K–J and Tre, before parting ways
Heather Marlatt shares hugs with Dee Walker and Dee’s two sons, K–J and Tre, before parting ways
It was extremely fortunate that, despite suffering from bleeding of the brain and undergoing heart surgery, he responded so well that the family was able to return to the mainland the first week of July, expecting Austin to lead a normal life.

At the same time, the Walkers, along with doctors, fought incredibly hard to save the life of their tiny baby girl Kiya but in the end, Kiya’s little heart wasn’t strong enough and she passed away on June 26.

For the two families, it was difficult to say good–bye after becoming so close and sharing so many of each other’s emotional highs and lows. They decided they wouldn’t say “good–bye.” Instead they vowed to stay in touch and to remain close across the miles.

Letter to RMHC

    To the entire staff of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii,

    Thank you very much for the wonderful place you provided us with during these past two months. We feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to house here through this challenging time for us. Every single one of you has left a lasting impression on us with your kind and gracious ways.

    We will always remember all we’ve gained throughout these short two months we were able to spend with our little girl, Kiya–Leshay. We’ve gained “a new family,” new friendships and most of all the love and support that guided us through each day. We will be ever–so–grateful for this heartfelt experience and we will always remember your kind generosity.

With much appreciation,
Kelsey, Dee, K–J. And Tre Walker

More RMHC–HI Stories: