Family gives back to Ronald McDonald House

One family who really needed the services of Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco plans to give back to the charity.
October 9, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
There's an incredible program in San Francisco that keeps families together when their child has been hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco has been making a difference for nearly 25 years. ABC7 News saw what one family is doing to show its gratitude.

"It seemed like it was so long that we were in the hospital and that was our life for three months," said Heather Gloeckler.

We caught up with Heather and Jim Gloeckler, their 3-year-old twins and 6-year-old big brother, Gio, for a reunion at the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco.

We first met them at the Ronald House, in 2010, just a few months after Jayden and Caleb survived a scary medical condition and were born 14 weeks prematurely.

"When I left the hospital, and the boys had to stay, I said, 'What are we going to do?'" said Heather.

She needed to be close to the twins. Gio was just 3 years old at the time. Dad was commuting from his job in Santa Cruz. The medical bills were piling up.

"All of a sudden the doctors were saying stuff like the kids might not make it, they might come out with different problems," said Jim.

And then, they learned Ronald McDonald House had room.

"If there was an emergency, we could hop in the car or take the shuttle and be there in a couple of minutes," said Heather.

Gio had a safe place to stay, while mom and dad were gone.

"This place was his little sanctuary. He loved being in this room. That made it more normal for him," said Heather.

The families who stay at Ronald McDonald House learn very quickly that this is a home away from home and it helps them deal so much better with their child's illness.

"If you ever think you have a problem, you talk to a family for five minutes and you find out what a real problem is," said Lois Moore, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House San Francisco.

Moore says families like the Gloecklers will have another option in a couple of years when a Ronald McDonald House will be included in the new Benioff Children's Hospital, which is under construction in San Francisco.

"What we did was move the kitchen right into the dining room and that way a parent can sit, watch their child," said Moore.

Jennings: "How much of a difference do you think it would make to be in the hospital at a Ronald McDonald House, when a baby is as sick as your kids were?"
Jim: "Huge."
Heather: "Yeah. That 15 minutes is a lot when you're in a life changing situation."

And, now the Gloeckler family is thriving and moving into the future. Jim is a firefighter in Monterey County and Heather is studying to be a nurse. They plan to give back to this house, when the medical bills for the twins are paid off.

"I want to see the roof that needs to be fixed. It was our home back then and I still consider it our home now. We want to make sure this place is here for a long time," said Jim.

And the boys had something to say too. They want to see more toys for the kids and see more people be able to stay there.

You can join ABC7 News anchor Cheryl Jennings and ABC7 Meteorologist Mike Nicco at a fundraiser next week. Click here for more information.


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