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April 12th, 2023
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – your child is sick and there is very little you can do to help.
My nephew, Brayden, was born with a (literal) list of issues*. He was diagnosed with a failure to thrive, followed by a slew of other diagnoses that kept coming, one after the other, for several months after his birth. He was in the NICU at Children’s Wisconsin (CW) for three months and my sister and her husband worked together to be there with him, advocate for him and care for him every day.
Although my sister was lucky enough to live within a relatively easy driving distance to CW, I saw firsthand through her very difficult experience how unbelievably helpful it would be to stay at a place like the Ronald McDonald House®. Not only for the close proximity and comfortable accommodations, but for the built-in community of people who can understand, at least a little bit, what you’re going through. Many children who end up at CW have very rare, complex medical issues. This creates a rare, lonely feeling for the parents and families of those children.
Now that I have been involved with and served on a few committees at Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Eastern Wisconsin for a little over a year, I have heard countless stories of the positive impact of that community.
I started off serving on the Chefs’ Dinner Committee. The Chefs’ Dinner event is a truly unique experience. I have been to countless galas and events before, and it’s often a joke that the meal is some form of dry chicken. Not only is that not the case with the Chefs’ Dinner, it’s a unique, custom created meal by local chefs with unique and delectable wine pairings. After attending the event for the first time, I was truly blown away. Even better than the food and wine, though, is hearing from a family who has stayed at the House. Hearing about the emotional impact of staying in a place surrounded by people who are going through something similar is truly perspective-changing. Take a look and listen to the most recent story from the 2023 Chefs’ Dinner. Now, in addition to the Chefs’ Dinner Committee, I have served on the Gala Committee and Development Committees. It has been a true pleasure.
Aside from knowing the value of the House through my personal and family experiences, I also happen to work at the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. And, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin is a BBB Accredited Charity, a seal holder and a past BBB Torch Awards for Ethics winner. Working for BBB, I know first-hand how difficult it is to be able to say each of those things. Unfortunately, many charities use their mission as a means to raise money and not follow through with using those funds appropriately. To be a BBB Accredited Charity, the organization must be transparent and operate ethically with integrity. It is extraordinarily important to me that any organization I choose to work with has these same values.
For those of you wondering, now at 8 years old, my nephew has been through 10 surgeries and continues to see 15 different specialists. The doctor’s appointments, prescription refills and insurance issues alone are a full-time job. Not to mention the weekly physical therapy, occupational therapy and music therapy, which helps tremendously. He will likely never have what most consider a “normal” life, but Brayden is a happy, stubborn and sassy kid, just like most are.
It is so gratifying to help support the House in any way I can. A simple mission – to keep families together and promote the health and well-being of children – that is fulfilled, thanks to many, each day. If you’re like I was, looking for a place to help and give back, I would highly encourage you to contact my friends RMHC® Eastern WI. I promise, you cannot step into that House without feeling the true devotion to a mission worth supporting.
*Brayden’s List of Diagnoses:
Julie Albrecht is the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Better Business Bureau in Wisconsin and the Executive Director of the BBB Foundation. Since 2013, Julie has worked to educate and inform people throughout the state of Wisconsin about BBB and related services by leveraging the power of social media and a wide variety of other communications platforms. She’s passionate about helping others in accordance with the BBB mission to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. Julie serves BBB on the international level by sitting on the Marketing & Communications Committee of the International Association of Better Business Bureaus (IABBB) and she also serves on a variety of committees at Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Eastern Wisconsin (RMHC®). She lives in Brookfield with her husband Josh, 6-year-old son and 3-year old dog.