By Koshia Silver
August 3, 2021

Helping hands for families

Edmondites hold positions of leadership at Ronald McDonald House Charities® Oklahoma City, helping families in crisis.

Edmond residents are fortunate to be near state-of-the-art pediatric medical care in the event they should need it. Edmondites hold positions of leadership at Ronald McDonald House Charities® Oklahoma City (RMHC-OKC), helping families in crisis.

“Just a few short weeks before my daughter Sophia would turn six years old, we found ourselves at OU Children’s Hospital while my daughter fought for her life,” said Jaimie Weihermueller.

It’s hard to imagine what would happen if your child were seriously ill. Like Jaimie, you would want to stay by your child’s side until they were well, no matter what.

“As her mom, I refused to leave the hospital for the first couple of weeks in fear that something terrible would happen while I was gone,” said Weihermueller. “Those were the hardest days of my life, but it was during those days that I became incredibly thankful for the little things that can make a hard situation just a little bit easier. Those ‘little things’ were provided by the Ronald McDonald Family Room® at OU Children’s Hospital.”

RMHC-OKC began in 1980; a group of concerned citizens recognized the need for families of hospitalized children in Oklahoma City to be able to remain close and pursued a Ronald McDonald House® to serve that need. Four years later, RMHC-OKC opened its first Ronald McDonald House, and in 2008, the Ronald McDonald Family Room opened at OU Children’s Hospital.

What do you do if your child is in the hospital for weeks at a time? Months at a time? As a parent of a sick or injured child, how do you leave your child’s side even if you only live 20 minutes from the hospital? Those 20 minutes could feel excruciatingly long and could be the difference in being able to say goodbye or not.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room on the 6th floor of the hospital is a special place where families who live in the local area can rest just steps from their child’s bedside.

A comfortable home-like setting including a community living area with a television, a kitchen stocked with snacks, showers, and a laundry facility gives parents easy access to basic comforts. The Ronald McDonald Family Room also has a quiet room for conversation and phone calls in addition to computers to stay in touch with families, friends, and workplace responsibilities.

Edmondites and RMHC-OKC leaders Susan Adams and Judy Reyes-Henderson have every intent to grow the program and serve as many families as possible.

Susan Adams, RMHC-OKC president and CEO, has grown the Ronald McDonald House operation from 14 bedrooms to 40, and she has no plans to stop there. “It’s my hope and dream to have enough rooms so that all families seeking treatment at area hospitals are supported and can be actively involved in their child’s care. RMHC-OKC saves families over $1 million yearly in temporary living expenses, but I feel that there is an opportunity and that I need to do more.”

The Executive Director of Development Judy Reyes-Henderson is a recent addition to the RMHC-OKC leadership team but is ready to roll up her sleeves and make an impact in our community. “A common misconception is that Ronald McDonald House Charities programs are completely funded by McDonald’s, though our local McDonald’s owner/operators are generous with their time and treasures there is still a need to fundraise.”

Local McDonald’s owner/operators provide 26 percent of annual funding. McDonald’s also makes it easy for their customers to support the charity’s mission. Contributions to RMHC donation boxes from more than 120 restaurants in Central and Western Oklahoma, including Edmond restaurants, go directly to support local operations.

There are very unique opportunities to get involved with RMHC-OKC. Their popular Guest Chef program allows volunteers the opportunity to cook and serve dinner to families any night of the week. Other ways to give back include donating needed supplies, snacks, etc. to offset operational expenses.

I have been a parent for eight years, and I am happy, not lucky, to say that we have only had one trip to the emergency room and one set of stitches. No parent wants to imagine the unthinkable—I don’t want to imagine the unthinkable. But, I take comfort in knowing that Ronald McDonald House Charities Oklahoma City is there, should the unthinkable happen.

Edmondites Susan Adams and Judy Reyes-Henderson help lead Ronald McDonald House Charities® Oklahoma City (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

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About Koshia Silver

Koshia Silver has been an Edmond resident since the mid-2000s. She is an experienced marketing and communications leader with a proven background in branding, strategic partnerships, and visual storytelling.

Koshia prides herself on creating corporate narratives that resonate with their audience and she approaches problems with innovative solutions. She loves a challenge.