Even though I’m new to the Treasure Valley, this Saturday’s grand opening of the new Ronald McDonald House holds a special place in my heart.  Before 2005, The Ronald McDonald House was nothing more than the place my loose change would occasionally go when I stopped by the drive-thru.  I’ll never forget the day that I stopped at a gas station on my way home from church, the entire family in the car.  I started filling up the car with gas when my five-year-old son asked if I would take him to the restroom.  I took him out of his car seat like I had done hundreds of times and began to walk towards the convenience store.  I tried to step over the gas hose, but instead, I tripped.   

In a moment like that, your parental instinct is to grab your kid as tight as you can as you fall, but the result of that decision slammed his head on the pavement a fractured his skull.  When the kid that you think of as hyperactive and talks too much suddenly goes silent and is unresponsive you panic, and you scream for help from anyone who can hear you.  I got him back in the car as quickly as possible and drove to the hospital.  After what seemed like hours of waiting, hoping and praying, he was still unresponsive.  That hospital was not equipped to handle this sort of situation with a kid, so they took him by ambulance to the nearest Children’s Hospital over an hour away. 

While there was room for one parent to stay overnight in the hospital room, my daughter and I needed to find another place to stay.  I didn’t know what the financial implications of this visit were going to look like and I wasn’t in the mood to call hotels looking for a vacancy, I wanted to be as close as possible and spend as much time with him as I could.  That was the day I found out what the Ronald McDonald House did. 

A guest room at the new Boise Ronald McDonald House.

My daughter and I stayed therfor the entire time that my son was being treated.  The staff was supportive, positive and reassuring.  There was a playground for my daughter to be a kid during a time that all the attention was on her brother.  Fortunately, my son’s health improved, and we were back home in just a few days, but I will always be grateful for the time that I spent there at no charge.  

The magic toy closet at the new Boise Ronald McDonald House.

Last year, the Boise Ronald McDonald House had to turn families away because the demand was too high for their 17-room house.  This year, thanks to the amazing fundraising, they hope to not turn any families away in their brand new 47-room house located next door to their former location.   

The playroom at the new Boise Ronald McDonald House.

From Noon to 5 pm tomorrow, January 31 the Ronald McDonald house is open for you to see.  It’s an amazing facility that meets the needs of any family that might need it while one of the kids is being treated at St. Luke’s Children's Hospital across the street.  It’s the nicest house that you never want to stay in, but it’s comforting to know it's there.