“We spent 40 days and 40 nights  — which sounds like a joke, but believe me, it wasn’t – at Randall Children’s Hospital. They try very hard to make it a comfortable and welcoming place, and they do a good job, but it’s still a hospital,” Nicholas’ mom, Elizabeth, recalls. “We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House so our family could be together, and just being away from the constant bleeping of monitors to be able to sleep! It was a lifesaver.”

Nicholas has since returned to Randall as well as OHSU after developing a seizure disorder and later requiring ear tubes. Five-thirty am hospital check-ins would have required Elizabeth to drive in from the Oregon Coast at three am, but instead, she and her husband, Damon, were able to stay right next door. “We really value the opportunities to meet other families when we’re at the House. We met a family from the Bend area who has a little girl close to Nick’s age who also has Down’s, and we must have spent an hour in the kitchen sharing experiences! It’s been a huge comfort to have the normalcy of a community to come home to.”

“I feel like the Ronald McDonald House is truly a second home to our family,” Elizabeth says, between tears, “We’re so grateful for an organization that provides an atmosphere that makes that true.”