Shelby’s Story

Shelby pictured with a horse

No warning — no reason — just the sudden, horrible nightmare of a child going into seizures. Shelby was always healthy, always outside working with horses. She was physically active in the National Junior ROTC program at school, too. And she was a baton-twirler, from the age of 3!

But it all came crashing down. The first seizure lasted more than 7 hours. Afterward, she couldn’t even walk. The mysterious seizures increased in frequency. Soon Shelby, wheelchair-bound, couldn’t move her left hand … or even hold her head up. When doctors finally diagnosed her disorder, it was clear that the family would need medical help far from their home in Maine … at Hasbro Children’s Hospital here in Providence.

This exhausted, heartsick family also had a serious practical problem. They couldn’t afford to rent an apartment or hotel room for the duration of her treatment. For Shelby’s mother Tonia, it would be agony to leave her daughter so far away, without family or friends, for so long. She simply couldn’t do it.

Tonia arrived in tears…but thanks to the generous support of our donors, we were able to welcome her warmly…to slip an arm around her shoulder, to comfort her, and assure her that she would have a place to stay, where she could be close to her beloved daughter.

No family is ever fully prepared for a child’s medical emergency. The whole family is thrown into disarray. Shelby’s mother Tonia can tell you what a shock it is. But thanks to the dedicated people at Ronald McDonald House of Providence who “helped me with the guilt, confusion and anger of having to leave my husband and my two other daughters in Maine,” Tonia says today. “The volunteers were amazing.”

Tonia was gratified to find a beautiful place…a clean, orderly home, warm and welcoming. She was especially grateful for “all the hot meals at supper time and the pleasant conversations.”

A child doesn’t always get well quickly. After Shelby’s disorder was diagnosed, she needed to go into a subsequent treatment program. For a time, the whole family came down to Rhode Island. It was only possible because they were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Providence. They were able to be together at perhaps the most difficult time of their entire lives.

Shelby is doing well and although there have still been a few bumps in the road, she’s excited to begin her senior year of high school and she’s hopeful for the future.

– Tonia, RMH Providence Mother