Ronald McDonald House

One Family’s Story

February, 2008

Gene Davis

Life took an unexpected detour for Dee and Kelsey Walker on April 26, 2007, when Dee was flown from the Big Island to Oahu on doctor’s orders to be monitored and cared for by Kapiolani Medical Center. She was only 24–weeks along in her pregnancy and her doctor said there were complications.

Walker Family in hospital
Walker Family in hospital
Twelve hours after arriving at the hospital, Dee gave birth to a 17–1/2 ounce daughter whom they named Kiya–Leshay. They were elated to finally have a baby girl to go along with their two sons, K–Jaye and Tre, but they immediately began to anticipate the roller coaster ride they were in for. Here is their story in Dee’s own words.

Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness of Life

By Dee Walker

We kept asking ourselves how and why this could have happened to us. Was it something I did? How will we manage being on a different island? What about our jobs? The questions just kept emerging, and even though we knew deep down inside that we would do anything, and I mean ANYTHING to hold on to our baby’s life, we just didn’t know where to begin. Doctors told us that some babies go home by their original due dates at the least, which meant three to four months for us.

The biggest question then was where we would stay for that amount of time? Before I was discharged, one of the hospital’s social workers told us about the Ronald McDonald House. Even though we were unsure of what it would be like living there and felt emotionally drained, we decided to give it a try.

From the moment we arrived at the House, there was an instant warm and welcoming feeling. It wasn’t anything we expected. We were in complete awe as we were given a tour of the beautiful home, and an immediate sense of satisfaction came over us. We knew our two boys would love it, too. Who could ask for more? An indoor children’s play area, as well as an outdoor play area, which combined, seemed like an ideal daycare set up. The kitchen, dining area, bathrooms, and bedrooms were all so beautiful, it couldn’t have been a more inviting environment. But it wasn’t just the physical atmosphere that made us love the Ronald McDonald House. More than that, it was the people and the organization itself!

The Walkers outside their home–away–from–home
The Walkers outside their home–away–from–home
We had heard of Ronald McDonald House but until we stayed there, we had no idea of how important it is or how meaningful it would be to us. While staying at the House, we established lifetime friendships with people from all over the globe. Some of the families we met were going through similar situations, if not more challenging ones than we were and we gained strength from them. We supported each other and just knowing that we were not the only ones going through tough times really meant a lot.

Kiya–Leshay fought as hard as she could for eight weeks but unfortunately her little heart and lungs combined could not endure any more, and she passed away at the end of June. It was devastating. But now, as we reflect back, we realize those two months were the best two months of our lives, and that her short visit to this world changed us forever.

The whole experience at the Ronald McDonald House, and knowing the caring volunteers and staff there, has left our two young children with a clearer understanding of many virtues which we value dearly. They have learned to be more accepting of each other’s differences; to treat others with kindness and respect; and they are more aware of what it’s like to be a sensitive and caring individual as a whole. These are all essential qualities that we can only hope our children will continue to find of great importance in life.

My belief has always been that there is always something to be thankful for, and even in this bittersweet situation, we will always remember and cherish this heartfelt experience. It has definitely given us a richer perspective on life. We have learned and we have grown. It is Kiya–Leshay’s legacy, I guess you could say.

One of my favorite quotes is from Melody Beattie: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Ronald McDonald House definitely holds a special place in our hearts! You will always be appreciated whole–heartedly for the priceless gift of love you provided us with at your House, OUR HOME–AWAY–FROM–HOME!

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