Gannon Dial, 8, has a big loving family who watch out for him because he has health issues, including autism. His brothers, Mikey and C.J., sister Maddy and his dad all stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco for seven weeks, after Gannon was rushed into surgery for a condition that almost killed him.
"He was actually diagnosed with EPC, epilepsy partial continuum. They were partial seizures that never stopped," said Candice Dial, Gannon's mother. "He couldn't eat, he would literally sit on the couch shaking and screaming out in pain. That was his life for at least two years."
Gannon's weight dropped drastically. He only weighed 30 pounds at the age of 8, before the surgery in May.
"He had no quality of life before. We were basically sitting there basiclly watching him die. He was very sick," said Candice.
They were frantic and the doctors were alarmed.
"If we can't get this to stop, and obviously these medicines aren't working, he's going to go into cardiac arrest, you're going to lose your son," said Candice.
So in May, Gannon had brain surgery at UCSF Medical Center -- almost 100 miles away from their home in Oakdale. It was a long recovery. The family wanted to be there during this critical time and commuting was impossible.
"We ran out of money for the hotel, our insurance wouldn't pay anymore. We literally stayed in the truck for two days with the kids," said Mike Dial, Gannon's dad.
They heard that the Ronald McDonald House was full, but then they say a miracle happened for them and a room opened up.
"I'm thankful they had a place to stay, so I was able to see my other kids and have the support of him every day. Coming to the hospital," said Candice.
"We put them in school here, UCSF offers a school program," said Mike. "We got to cook dinner, we got to socialize with people. It was awesome and the accommodations, they're better than what we live in."
"Normalcy is what they most long for," said executive director Lois Moore.
Moore says that includes chores, just like they would at home, whether it's making beds, or cleaning the play area.
"They also have a caring group of volunteer staff and other families. It's really important, to know you're not alone," said Moore.
"Before he had the brain surgery, I kind of felt like a kid. Now after this brain surgery, I really stepped up and taken care of him," said Mikey.
When asked how much of a difference the Ronald McDonald House made to her, Maddie said, "A big difference."
The family was able to go on their first outing with Gannon ever as a family, after he recovered. They went to a San Francisco Giant's game.
"Without this house, it would have been so much different. We wouldn't have been able to be a part of what happened, stay together as a family. It brought everybody back together and it's been an absolute blessing," said Mike.
The Ronald McDonald House charges $10 a night for those who can pay. Cheryl and ABC7 meteorologist Mike Nicco will emcee a fundraiser this Friday night and you are welcome to attend.