For now, T’nesha Davis calls the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill home. Her son, just a baby, was born 25 weeks early, weighing only 1 pound, 7 ounces.
While he receives critical medical care at UNC Hospitals, Davis said the Ronald McDonald House has proven to be a sanctuary for her family.
She watched on Tuesday as ground was broken on an expansion project that will enable the House to serve more families in need and provide them with support that goes beyond a place to call home.
“Knowing that this place is here is a blessing. It is a blessing,” Davis said.
She was pregnant with her second son and went in for a routine checkup when she found out some news that would change her family’s life.
The doctor told her that she had severe preeclampsia, a rapidly progressive life-threatening condition that affects both the mother and unborn child. By conservative estimates, these disorders are responsible for 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths each year.
Doctors told Davis that emergency surgery was necessary or both could lose their lives.
She traveled from Fayetteville, where she lives with her young son and husband who serves in the military, to Chapel Hill to seek medical care at UNC Hospitals.
After her successful operation, she later needed somewhere to stay while her infant son received the essential care he needed in Chapel Hill.
“It is not a place where it is a pity party. They are actually here to support you and to help you through this time. You can make a lot of new friends here. Don’t come in thinking that it is just a doomsday because your child is in the hospital. They are going to keep you going and uplift you,” Davis said.
Davis said in a matter of months, the House’s staff and fellow families became her support system.
“I wouldn’t have been able to be without my son and be far away from him. I’m a hands-on mom. I cry when I can’t be with him during the day because I have to be with my other son. But, having them [the Ronald McDonald House staff] and knowing that they can watch him—it’s a big extended family,” Davis said.
The House serves any family with a child who is receiving treatment at a local hospital and lives outside of a 35-miles radius of the medical facility, regardless of their ability to pay.
Though the House has helped more than 2,200 families of seriously ill or injured children, nearly 800 families are turned away each year due to lack of space. And this demand will only increase in the coming years as UNC Hospitals continues to expand.
In an effort to meet the growing need for its services, the House celebrated its groundbreaking ceremony on planned expansion that will double the facility’s current square-footage and increase the number of rooms from 29 to 53.
Shelley Day, Executive Director of the House, said it became apparent in 2009 that the expansion would be necessary.
“Frankly, we are all looking forward to late Spring 2015 when we will open and be able to say to every family who needs us, ‘Come on down, we have room,’” Day said.
Day was joined by other members of the community, including Woody and Jean Durham, to commemorate the beginning of a project that will impact so many lives. Durham was the longtime play-by-play radio announcer of the UNC basketball and football teams and the “Voice of the Tar Heels.”
The Durhams served as honorary co-chairs of the fundraising efforts for the expansion.
The House is also making history with a pediatrics palliative care pilot program called, “Loving Hands,” which provides care for children facing the end of their lives through a partnership with Hospice. It’s the first of its kind in North Carolina and in the global Ronald McDonald House network.
For more information on how you can donate to the Ronald McDonald House expansion project, visit the “MakeRoomForHope.com” website.http://chapelboro.com/news/non-profit-news/breaking-ground-ronald-mcdonald-ch-celebrates-future-expansion-serve-families/
Authorities say the man who was arrested for pulling a knife on a UNC student Sunday afternoon has been involuntarily committed to UNC hospitals.
According to the Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill resident and 31-year-old UNC graduate, Jesse Alan Kister was committed in UNC Department of Public Safety’s custody on Sunday. When he’s released, he will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
Chapel Hill Police and DPS coordinated the search for Kister. CHPD found him in The Chapel of the Cross on East Franklin Street. He was taken to the Chapel Hill Police Station and quickly turned over to DPS since the crime took place on campus.
Kister was found in possession of four knives valued at $100, according to the incident report.
Alert Carolina issued an emergency warning shortly after 4:00 p.m., when the incident first took place. Buildings on campus were locked down—including Carmichael Arena, where the UNC women’s basketball team was playing its first-round NCAA tournament game.
Alert Carolina issued the all-clear at 5:18 p.m. Sunday afternoon. There were no injuries.
The DTH interviewed one of Kister’s former professors who said he only knew Kister in the classroom and didn’t know him on a personal level.
Kister received his bachelor’s degree in information science from UNC in 2005. He also earned a master’s in health care administration in 2008 and information science in 2011.
After Blake passed away, Laux decided to follow-through on a special project the two had planned to work on together as a way to honor her friend and all children fighting cancer.
The finished product was the video, “The Wavin’ Flag Lip-Dub,” featuring the song, “Wavin’ Flag,” by musician K’naan.
The video documents a 2013 family retreat for patients coping with cancer, blood disorders, and bone marrow transplants.
It shows patients, their families and volunteers having fun during all kinds of activities and singing and dancing along to the song, which is about being courageous.
Laux one of those volunteers who went on that retreat. She works with the program, CPALS (Carolina Pediatric Attention, Love, and Support), a student organization that pairs about 91 Carolina students with children at UNC Hospitals who are undergoing treatment for cancer or serious blood disorders.
Through CPALS, Laux was matched with Blake in January of 2013. He was undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer.
“He was in the hospital sometimes for 20 to 40 days at a time. I was trying to think of fun things he could do, and he loved music! I thought that together, maybe we could work on a project. I was thinking about these [lip dub] videos, and I thought this could be something we could do together,” Laux said.
A few years ago, Laux saw a video that Seattle Children’s Hospital had produced. She said it sparked the idea to create a similar video, but with a stamp of Tar Heel style.
Because Blake loved to sing, especially in duets with Laux, she said she knew it would be something he would enjoy.
“I told him that this is something that we could do together and it would be so fun. Unfortunately, he passed away in September. Shortly after his passing, I knew I wanted to stay involved in CPALS, and I was trying to think of something I could do that would make a difference. I went back to [the idea of] this video and knew that was something I wanted to do,” she said.
Pooling together the resources of Laux’s fellow CPAL peers, the group planned to document the family retreat. She said it was not just about taking part in a fun project. The greater message of the video was to capture the strength of the children and their families.
Laux said it was also a chance to remember Blake.
“The video is a way to honor him and his love of music and then to honor all of these children and their families. The big theme of this video is: ‘Together, we are brave.’ That is really the mantra at UNC Hospitals. When one person in a family is fighting cancer, really everybody is fighting cancer.”
Laux said she still keeps in touch with Blake’s family.
“I sent the video over to his mom, and I wanted her to be able to see it and kind of show her what I had done for him. She really enjoyed it, which I really loved,” Laux said.
Jessica Irven is the Pediatric Psychosocial Support Coordinator for the N.C. Children’s Hospital and also the Coordinator for CPALS.
Irven, who still gets chill bumps while watching the video, said it was a “show piece” for the family retreat and the larger support program offered to pediatric cancer patients and their families.
“It was a really great chance to go back and forth between getting our support needs out and having chat times and just letting loose,” Irven said. “We were just dancing and celebrating to the words of that fantastic song about being brave.”
**Listen to the Radio Version of this Story**http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-students-special-video-celebrates-kids-families-coping-cancer/
CHAPEL HILL - The transplant wing at UNC Hospitals is $30,000 closer to being named after the man who formerly cheered on North Carolina as Rameses.
“That’s just more than we had; that’s the way to look at it,” says Charlotte Ray, the mother of Jason. “Each step that we take—no matter what it is, what anybody does for us—that’s just getting us closer and closer to it.”
Jason died in 2007 after being hit by a car. He was in New Jersey with the UNC men’s basketball team for the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
His organs help save four lives and positively affected so many more. Because of his meaningful story, UNC Hospitals contacted the Jason Ray Foundation with the idea of naming the transplant center after him.
Sunday was the Second Annual Jason Ray Brunch and Silent Auction in which that idea took a few steps closer to reality.
“There was right close to—with the cheerleaders and everybody—I would say approximately 170 people that attended,” Charlotte says. “It was wonderful. We made a little over $30,000.”
Jason’s parents were left with the terrible burden of having their son taken from them without warning, but Charlotte says moments like Sunday when people come together to pay tribute makes it a little bit easier.
“Everybody’s been just so generous and supportive that it’s just therapy to think what a legacy this is for him,” Charlotte says.
Donations can always be made to the Jason Ray Foundation by clicking here. There’s one more event this year at which people can contribute: the Fifth Annual Jason Ray Golf and Silent Auction August 25 and 26 in Davidson, North Carolina.http://chapelboro.com/news/non-profit-news/unc-transplant-wing-30000-closer-to-new-name/