Now that the Hutcheon-Day family has settled into their new normal in Toronto, reflecting back on their time at Ronald McDonald House Charities® Northern Alberta is bittersweet.
Emerson was diagnosed prenatally with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Trinela and Daniel knew they needed to relocate to Edmonton from Red Deer to give their son the best care possible. They wanted a reliable and affordable place to stay, but they found more when they moved into RMHCNA.
Trinela and Daniel moved into RMHCNA before their son was born to get settled in their new city. Trinela fell in love with our programming, from our Meals that Mend Program to the Shuttle Program, but some of her most treasured nights were BINGO nights. Playing games at the House was relaxing for Trinela, and it made her feel like she could have fun.
Emerson was born at the Royal Alexandra Hospital on March 17, 2016, but was quickly transported to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Trinela describes the experience as a whirlwind, drive-thru birth. She didn’t see her son until after he was in the Stollery. And at five days old, Emerson began his battle with HLHS and had open heart surgery.
When the Hutcheon-Day family first came to Edmonton they tried to calculate how much money parking would cost at the hospital every day, and they were incredibly relieved to learn that RMHCNA had a Shuttle Program to take them to the hospital every day. “I didn’t have to worry about getting myself to the hospital. I just got to enjoy the extra time with my son. And Shuttle drivers Gil and Ted brought joy to my life through their jokes,” says Trinela.
Both parents found support in the staff members and volunteers at the House. From daily meals at the House to the groups of volunteers providing cleaning support, Trinela was blown away and amazed by the community involvement she saw every day.
They moved from Red Deer into RMHCNA, but call Toronto home now so that Emerson can receive constant medical care and be surrounded by family, including his grandfather Jim, who was with Trinela every step of the way. “My dad is my hero and my rock,” says Trinela.
While at the House, Jim became an incredible supporter of RMHCNA and our families. Commonly known around RMHCNA as Grandpa Jim or Jimbo, he was quick to lend a hand, whether he was helping other families, encouraging volunteers and donors, or helping around the House with chores.
Going home was a tough transition. “Nothing can compare to living at RMHCNA. We had other families around to help, and it was calming. RMHCNA was our home. The House was our sanctuary,” says Trinela.
Emerson is doing very well. His future holds more surgeries, but he is a very tough boy who is ready for the challenges he and his family face.