When their cross-country road trip was halted due to a medical emergency, RMHC Toronto was there for parents Dustin and Michelle.

Dustin and Michelle were so excited to make the cross-country move from Nova Scotia to Alberta this summer. When the time came, the couple – along with their two-month-old son, Oliver, and their three pets – packed up a U-Haul to make the long drive to their new home.

After picking up Dustin’s mom from the Ottawa airport so she could help with the drive, they arrived in Sudbury and realized something wasn’t quite right with Oliver.

“He was getting fussy and started turning grey. When we brought him to the emergency room, they had five or six doctors looking at him immediately,” says Dustin.

Oliver was diagnosed with an obstructed bowel, and it was quickly determined that he needed to be airlifted to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) to receive life-saving surgery.

With just a moment’s notice, Michelle jumped in the helicopter with Oliver. Dustin followed soon after by car – leaving his mom in Sudbury with all their belongings and pets.

The couple had planned their entire route, with hotels booked in Sault Ste. Marie and further along their drive.

“I’m the type of person who sticks to the plan and won’t stop until it’s complete,” says Dustin, “but when we realized how serious the situation was, I knew we needed to change our travel plans right away.”

Oliver’s diagnosis had halted their journey, but the couple knew their son’s health was their biggest priority. The last thing they were thinking about was where they would stay while they waited for Oliver to get out of surgery and recover.

As a former employee at RMHC Atlantic, Michelle was acutely aware of the programs and services Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) provides to families in need – she just never thought she’d be one of them.

“Having worked at an RMHC Chapter, I’ve heard firsthand how thankful families are that RMHC Houses and Family Rooms exist. But I never thought I’d have my own story,” says Michelle. “We’re so grateful for the supports offered by RMHC Toronto so that we can stay by Oliver’s side.”

“The Ronald McDonald Family Room at SickKids was our safe haven. We could lay down and rest a bit while still being close to Oliver. When we got a room at the House, a weight was lifted off us. We knew then that we could get a good night’s rest and still ensure that one of us could be right by our son’s side at all times.”

– Oliver’s dad, Dustin

Oliver is now recovering after having a third of his intestine removed, which is enough to let him live a normal life. Once Oliver is healthy enough, the family plans to fly out to Calgary and move into their new home, completing their cross-country journey!

Our donors’ support is so crucial to ensuring that families like Oliver’s have a comfortable and safe space to stay together when the unthinkable happens: having a seriously ill child and being far from home. To make a donation that supports families at RMHC Toronto, please visit our giving page here.