Cohen & Cooper's Story
Little Cohen (5) and Cooper (1.5) have visited our house since they were born, and will likely continue to be regular visitors over their childhood and teen years.
The two brothers came into the world prematurely and were each diagnosed with life-threatening respiratory and swallowing complications. The usual emotional journey of welcoming a child into the world was taken into overdrive for parents Emily and Ben, who watched both Cohen and Cooper fight for the lives they’d only just begun.
And that fight has been and will continue to be a long one.
After an initial 6-month stay at our Newcastle House after Cohen was first born, the family have been back and forward between their own home which is seven hours away and their second home with us. With regular visits to John Hunter Children’s Hospital and countless nights away from home and work now a regular occurrence for the family, the added stress of a costly hotel was simply not viable.
Emily shares that the house has provided a safe space and an escape from the constant beeping and stress of the wards.
“Ronald McDonald House provides families with a safe space to go to for both happy moments and the sad ones. Over the past five years, we’ve met so many people and made lifelong friends with volunteers, staff and other families,” Emily told us.
“The support makes all the difference. You don’t go to bed staring at walls wondering, because there’s always someone there you can talk to. You’re not going back to a lonely, empty hotel room from a big day in hospital. You’re going home.”
Whilst the two brothers are able to live relatively normal lives, their multiple, rare conditions mean they have very low immune systems. Like for many families who stay with us, Emily said it means choosing a random hotel for them to stay in can actually be life-threatening if it doesn’t meet the hygienic standards needed to protect the kids against even just a common cold.
“Any illness can affect both Cohen and Cooper’s condition significantly, so we need to be extremely careful about their environment. We have complete trust that Ronald McDonald House provides a hygienic space across all their services, and we’ve used a lot of them.”
Cohen, Cooper, Emily and Ben have become familiar faces in many of our services across the Northern NSW region. They’ve had a cup of coffee and a break in our family rooms, stayed in our Newcastle and Tamworth houses, and enjoyed three much-deserved family holidays in our Forster retreat.
Emily herself refers to Ronald McDonald House as her second home. Her parents relied on the service when Emily and her brother faced their own life-threatening conditions when they were first born.
While the family has had a difficult journey, you wouldn’t be able to be pick it when you see the kids faces each time they visit the house. Cohen is a social butterfly who loves to prank the volunteers and staff he has grown to know over the years, while Cooper loves visiting the aviary and playing on the playground with his big brother.
A feeling of coming home after a long day and a support network they can rely on makes the world of difference to families, like Cohen and Cooper’s, who are going through the stress of caring for a child with a serious illness or injury.
Parents who have stayed with us believe that the house significantly helped their family’s psychological wellbeing and their child’s recovery and quality of life.
We’ve kept our doors open to families in need for 30 years now with the generous support of the Northern NSW community. We hope to provide that same safe place for families for the next 30 years. But we need your help to do this!
Please help us keep families together by making a donation. Your donation, big or small, will make an impact on families that will last a lifetime.
Our birthday wish is to continue to be here for the next 30 years, providing a home away from home, for families when they need it the most. But we can only achieve this through the support of people like you.