“We will never be the same because of the people we met here.”
– Tom, RMHC Dad
Tom and Joanna tell their three-year-old son, Michael, that he is a hero. And he is.
In November of 2021, the Fritz family left their home in Oklahoma with their two sons, Michael and four-month-old Luke. Luke was born with Hunter Syndrome and needed a bone marrow transplant; Michael was his donor. The transplant would take place in Pittsburgh.
Arriving in an unfamiliar city more than 1,000 miles from home, Tom and Joanna were relieved they could be close to their boys by staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
“Being connected to the hospital has been an immense help,” said Tom.
Shortly after the transplant, Michael joined his parents at the Ronald McDonald House while Luke remained in the hospital for several more weeks. And then Michael and his mom returned home to the boys’ big sister, Rebekah, while Tom and Luke continued the journey in Pittsburgh.
For the Fritz family, the Ronald McDonald House has brought them comfort and support in ways they never imagined, like daily meals, generously donated for families staying at the House.
“We did not expect any food, but it has been such an incredible blessing to have,” said Tom.
Knowing firsthand the impact the meal program has on families at the Ronald McDonald House, Tom and Joanna made their own gift to provide meals for families to enjoy. Tom helped plan the menu to include some favorites for the family to enjoy during Joanna’s recent visit.
Additionally, Tom and Luke spent the holiday season at the Ronald McDonald House. Tom was surprised that families could visit a room filled with toys, blankets and so many other gifts and choose whatever they wanted. All items were donated, allowing families to select presents to make holiday magic.
“They do anything to make the families happier,” said Tom, of RMHC staff.
The family also has witnessed the power of families coming together to support each other through something as simple as a conversation.
“You see so many people openly talking, and they appreciate having each other to talk to,” said Tom.
Even three-year-old Michael, during his short stay at the House, made a good friend who continued to ask Tom about him even after Michael returned home to Oklahoma.
“We will never be the same because of the people we met here,” said Tom
After 156 days, Luke and Tom joined their family in Oklahoma, a moment that they were all eagerly awaiting.
“It’s such a gift to have everyone home again, especially with Luke doing so well after his bone marrow transplant. Luke continues to thrive and is meeting his milestones and is enjoying being home with his brother and sister. We are so grateful to be where we are today, and we are especially grateful to the Ronal McDonald House for helping Luke get the treatment he needed.”