by Cynthia de Castro/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – Jorge Mora was a normal 11-year old boy until several months ago when his mother, Lorenia Ayala, noticed he was becoming weak and pale. They initially thought it was nothing serious. After all, he still loved to play with his younger brothers, Ernesto (9) and Sergio (7). But when his condition steadily deteriorated, the family took him to the doctor. Early this year, Jorge was diagnosed with leukemia, the most common childhood cancer.
“For the past three months, he has been undergoing chemotherapy at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,” said Lorenia with tears in her eyes. “Next month, he is set for a bone marrow transplantation.”
With their Lancaster home so far from the hospital in LA, Lorenia and Jorge have been living in the Ronald Mcdonald House along Fountain Avenue, very near the Children’s Hospital LA.
The Ronald McDonald House program has provided a “home-away-from-home” a temporary lodging facility for the families of seriously ill children being treated at nearby hospitals. Since its inception in 1974, there are now more than 276 Ronald McDonald Houses open in 30 countries and regions worldwide, providing more than 6,000 bedrooms for millions of families like Lorenia’s. The rooms allow the families of hospitalized children like Jorge to refresh, relax, rest, shower and sleep in between their visits to the hospital.
In time for Mother’s Day, a newly-built auxiliary property on Lyman Place was opened recently in Los Angeles, a half block from the original in Fountain Avenue. The expansion of the facility added 40 additional hotel-style bedrooms. Together, the two buildings that make up the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House can provide low cost, often free, lodging to 75 families per night; an increase from the previously accommodated 35-families nightly.
“We’re grateful for this place,” said another mother, Xochil Aguilar, who lives in Orange County but has been in the Ronald MacDonald House for the past 6 months. Her 6-month old baby, Samantha, has been in the Children’s Hospital LA since birth. “Samantha was born with only ½ of her heart developed. She has had two open-heart surgeries already. But, I still can’t take her home because she is now suffering from pneumonia and infection.”
As a special treat for mothers like Lorenia and Xochil, the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) hosted a memorable event for them April 29. They were pampered during the day with relaxing and rejuvenating massage treatments, spa services, manicure and pedicure, delicious catered food, goody bags, fashion tips, and visits from Celebrity Friends of RMHC Cindy Crawford, Dayanara Torres, June Ambrose, and Tamia.
“It will be very special to watch these incredible mothers take a break, relax, and enjoy the day,” said supermodel Cindy Crawford. “We know that the presence of families helps in the healing process for children. These moms give so much love and support to their children during such a difficult time, and in honor of Mother’s Day, this is a nice way to show our appreciation for all the sacrifices they make for their families each and every day.”
Former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres said “it is such an honor to be with you mothers today. I’m a mom too so I can understand how hard it is to have your child in a hospital bed. Today is your day! Enjoy your day.”