Ronald McDonald House at Stanford soon to be largest in world

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The Ronald McDonald House at Stanford is almost done with a multi-million dollar expansion project. They opened up a second house last year and they're renovating the original house right now.

The walls are up and the furniture is in and families have been making themselves at home inside the new wing of the Ronald McDonald House for nearly a full year. But staff there may be getting ready for their biggest challenge yet.

"Building this brand new 50,000 square-foot house was a big project but what we did is we moved families into this house and then we emptied the legacy house so we get to work on renovating that. Our big jump in mission delivery is really going to happen this summer when we go from 67 families a night to 123 families a night," Ronald McDonald House's Annette Eros said.

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That's right -- it's nearly doubling its capacity and it will become the world's largest Ronald McDonald House.

It means more room for families like Nicola Harris'. "It takes a village to raise a child and it takes even more to raise a special needs child," she said.

Cameron, who's 20 months old, has been in the hospital his whole life. He was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The left side of his heart is underdeveloped and now he's waiting for a heart transplant.

"Our lives, unfortunately, usually make us choose between working and caregiving. The Ronald McDonald House lets us be caregivers," Harris said.

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Not just to Cameron. Harris has five other kids and says the house helps her provide some normalcy. "Living in a hotel is just physically impossible for our family. So to have such a beautiful place available to us, it makes us. We would be broken without it," she said.

"When I hear from a family that firsthand is explaining how they're getting what they need from these big decisions we made and these small decisions we made. It's fabulous because we feel like we're doing it right," Eros said.

But doing it right for twice the number of families, starting this summer, will be their biggest operational jump since Ronald McDonald House at Stanford was built in 1979.

The legacy house reopens its doors in June, marking the end of a $46.5 million expansion project.

Their caretaking mission is never over. With more rooms, they'll actually need more funds going forward.

RELATED: Ronald McDonald House at Stanford in final phase of renovation project

Click here to find out how to help and click here for more information about the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.

This weekend, the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford will hold its annual House Party fundraiser. ABC7's Cheryl Jennings will be the emcee of the event.
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