A little bit of sparkle.

Ashton was born on December 18, 2009. He was a healthy and happy baby boy. Six weeks later everything changed.  I’ll never forget that stormy February night. Ashton was having difficulties. My husband Marion and I rushed him to the emergency room at our local hospital and our nightmare began. Ashton’s oxygen levels were dropping. He needed to be transferred to Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB) for emergency treatment, but the storm was preventing the air ambulance from flying. My baby boy was in crisis and we were stranded.

ashton-family-webCHOB drove their ambulance through the storm and thankfully made it to us. They stabilized Ashton. We packed into the ambulance and made the dangerous journey to Buffalo and the care Ashton desperately needed.

The next morning Ashton went into respiratory arrest and then cardiac arrest. The doctors worked on him non-stop.  We saw horrible things that can never be forgotten.  After many attempts, they restarted his heart and placed my little guy on life support. We were told to prepare ourselves because he might not make it through the night. Ashton was diagnosed with cerebral palsy with a seizure disorder.

My little guy is a fighter. For the next month, my husband and I took turns traveling between the hospital and the Buffalo Ronald McDonald House. At the House we were surrounded by heart-warming, compassionate people. They looked after us. We met other families going through the same thing. It was amazing. The Buffalo Ronald McDonald House was there for us and because of that we were able to be with Ashton.

Ashton is now 8 years old. We travel to Oishei Children’s Hospital a few times each year for Ashton’s checkups and follow-up tests. It was during our recent visit that I unexpectantly had my second experience with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC).

img_1922I was sitting alone at Ashton’s bedside. We had both been confined to his room for three days, Ashton as the patient and me as the nervous and scared mom. Ashton was getting more and more depressed. He missed his dad and his brother and sister. He missed his little doggie Daisy and his routine and safety of home. I kept trying to distract him and cheer him up, but the spark was gone from his eyes. I felt like crying.  Suddenly, we heard music coming from the hall. I opened the door and there it was: the Ronald McDonald House Charities Happy Wheels Cart! It was colorful and childlike, and full of treats. The RMHC volunteers who were pushing the cart asked if they could come in for a visit. They were soft-spoken, warm and friendly. They spoke with Ashton asking him if he would like a snack and a little toy. That was magic to an 8-year old. Ashton started to perk up.  The volunteers spent time getting him to smile and move around. It was a ray of sunshine. They didn’t forget about me, I had someone to talk to and two cups of coffee!! After they left, Ashton smiled the rest of the day. He kept talking about Ronald McDonald and playing with his toy. His sparkle was back.  He started playing with his iPad and watching his TV again. A happy child makes a happy mother. My sparkle was back too!

– Alisa Smith