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‘Simply amazing’: Walton grateful for support of Ronald McDonald House

Heather and Mark Walton desperately wanted to be parents. When their miracle occurred they had no idea the journey would find them in need of the Ronald McDonald House.

During the course of Heather’s pregnancy with twins, the couple were given the news that one of their children would not be born healthy.

“The doctors told us that there were markers that indicated our son wouldn’t be born healthy,” Heather said. “That, and some of my own medical conditions put the pregnancy in the high risk category. It was a tough time for us.”

Heather and her husband never once considered where the journey might lead them. But, due to the expected problems at the birth of their children and during the final months of pregnancy for Heather, the couple made grueling trips to specialists in Mobile for treatment and to prepare for delivery.

“It was difficult to say the least,” Heather said. “I had a C-section at 32 weeks. Our babies were small. Harrison, our son, was born at 6:04 p.m. and Kylee, our daughter, came at 6:05 on April 5, 2007. He weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces and she weighed 4 pounds, 2 ounces. They both lost weight in those first days, but to look at them now, you wouldn’t know that. I got to seem them for the first time on Easter Sunday – they were our little gifts for Easter.”

Heather said the twins required an additional two weeks at USA Medical Center in Mobile where they were born.

“I was released after a couple of days but they had to stay,” Heather said. “Of course, I couldn’t leave my babies so I had to stay in Mobile.”

Heather had another miracle occur with the birth of her twins.

“A social worker came and said that Ronald McDonald House was packed and there was a waiting list,” Heather said. “I was told that the day before I was released. The social worker came back the next day and said she didn’t understand how it had happend, but there was a room waiting on me at RMH.”

Heather said the use of the facility by her and her family was a saving grace for her health, sanity and ability to stay near her children.

“I can never express how wonderful Ronald McDonald House is and was for us,” Heather said. “When you are going through something like having your child in the hospital for that long, you have a hard time remembering other things you need to take care of in your life. After I had been there a few days, I realized I hadn’t paid the family bills for the month and had all of the papers in my car. The people at RMH made arrangments to get me to a computer there so that I could take care of my bills, banking and whatever else I needed to do.”

Heather said her needs were met far beyond her imagination while she was a guest at RMH.

“They thought of things and had them waiting on you before you even realized you needed it,” Heather said. “It was simply amazing. I was breast feeding and needed special pumps and containers for that. When I got to RMH, they had already found out what I would need and had it waiting on me. I can’t explain how wonderful that was. They took so much off of my shoulders in those tough days there.”

Heather said the twins are now learning about RMH for themselves.

“Harrison and Kylee join us each year for Buddy Walk, a fundraiser for the National Down Syndrom Society, in October,” Heather said. “Harrison was born with Down syndrome, and that’s important to us to support that. But, with that Walk each year, walkers are presented with $50 gift cards for every $1,000 raised. Last year, we earned two gift cards and will earn two more this year. We take those gift cards and shop for toys and deliver them to Ronald McDonald House. The kids just know they are giving toys to boys and girls who need a chance to play. I hope they realize the importance of what we’re doing.”

Heather said the gift of toys each year isn’t the only way she works to help keep RMH alive.

“I’ve delivered baby clothes to RMH several times,”

Heather said. “I’ve gotten the employees at T.R. Miller Mill (where she is employed) to save soft drink can tabs and the cans to help raise money for RMH. I won’t ever be able to do enough to repay the people who made my life better at a very tough time.”

Other residents in the Brewton area will get an opportunity to help continue the work of Ronald McDonald House workers and volunteers.

McCheers will take place at the Country Club of Brewton which will be transformed for the fundraising event. The event, which will be held from 6 to 10 p.m., will include silent auctions of about 15 or more themed packages — such as a Gulf Coast getaway or bridge bash — and there will also be a live auction for one to two big-ticket items. Ronald McDonald, himself, is also expected to be on hand.

Funds raised from the event help with expansions at RMH in Mobile to increase the 12 rooms to a total of 38 once renovatiosn are complete. A $25,000 donation from the event would allow one apartment at RMH to be officially named The Brewton Room.

Tickets for the event are $50 per person. Anyone interested in McCheers can call 251-694-6874 or 867-5767.