Jennifer is 19 and was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 6 months old. Her condition, a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system, has caused her to undergo two double-lung transplants.
“She was doing better and hoping to start college but her lungs failed again,” Ronald McDonald House Tucson Chapter President & CEO Kate Jensen said of what brought about Jennifer’s second transplant.
Thanks to support from organizations such as the Sundt Foundation, which made a $2,500 grant to the Ronald McDonald House last year, Jennifer’s situation is getting better. The House used some of the money to help Jennifer’s father, who was driving back and forth to Tucson from the family home in Yuma, fix the air conditioning in his car.
Jennifer’s mother has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House with her daughter. Since officials at the Tucson Ronald McDonald House started keeping records in 2006, Jennifer has stayed there for 639 nights. Her longest stretch was 151 nights.
“She has literally grown up here,” Kate said.
The Ronald McDonald House also used the grant from Sundt to help a family after a bad car accident. Their car was totaled on a planned trip from California to Texas, their sons were taken to Banner-Diamond Children’s Medical Center and the mother and father hitched a ride to Tucson from someone they had never met.
Once they arrived in Tucson, they had little more than the clothing on their backs.
“We keep supplies of toothbrushes, soap and shampoo,” Kate said. “We used some of the money to help them buy clothes. Having that emergency fund available helps us meet families’ needs in ways we normally couldn’t.”
More of the Sundt Foundation grant was used to assist a high-school senior from Douglas, Arizona who had a premature baby. While the baby was hospitalized, the young woman stayed at the Ronald McDonald House to finish her senior year at Douglas High School. She was even asked to be the inspirational speaker at graduation this spring.
“We used the emergency fund to buy her a new dress for graduation,” Kate said.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides resources and care to children and their families being served by leading hospitals worldwide. The Sundt Foundation is funded by employee-owner contributions that are matched by the company. Its mission is to assist underserved children and adults in the places we do business. Since it was formed in 1999, the foundation has made almost $8 million in grants.