Jason Thorpe of Quispamsis, New Brunswick, was 9 years old when he first stepped foot in Ronald McDonald House. He had heard about the House from his family but was unable to visit due to restrictions from his leukemia diagnosis. Then his opportunity came.
“When the day arrived, we set out on foot,” says Jason. “As we arrived at the front steps I remember walking in to hugs and well wishes from the staff and other families. As my younger sister gave me a tour, she showed me that we could drink as much chocolate milk as our tummies could handle, bake goods and create crafts with our patient volunteers.”
Within the first ten minutes a distinct moment occurred. The memory has stayed with Jason until this day.
“We were in the play room at this special Home,” says Jason. “This room was different to what I was used to during my hospital stays. There was laughter and screams of the competitive nature but to me it seemed so calm. There were no buzzers going off or nurses that stopped your play for blood work. As I’ve aged, I realized this moment was one of the first times where I understood that I was on the path to recovery and I felt like a kid at heart again.”
Jason ended up staying at the House numerous times over the years. After his main bouts of chemo he continued to visit the House on a regular basis for checkups. He even stayed at the House during Hurricane Juan and as luck would have it, again for White Juan. There was even an ongoing joke that when his family arrived, they brought a storm with them.
“I believe that Ronald McDonald House has made a tremendous impact on my family’s life,” reveals Jason. “I’d like to tell other families that at this moment in your life not everything may be going the way you imagined for your child. Do not be shy to open up and share your struggles because you will be welcomed with open arms and an open heart. Ronald McDonald House simply wants the best for you and your family and they go out of their way to do so.”
Today, Jason is a fourth year student attending Saint Francis Xavier University. He and his classmates have organized The Ronald McDonald House Toy Drive and have delivered countless teddy bears and toys to the House. “The giving spirit of the House has inspired me and my family to give back. We always like to stay in touch and I feel like they are part of our extended family.”