Parents Sammy, James and their six year old daughter Aubree spent 24 nights at Ronald McDonald House, travelling far from home in Cairns.

“We had been asked to attend a tertiary scan in Townsville as our last three ultrasounds had shown bub with a distended stomach and our obstetrician wanted a second opinion,” Sammy explained.

During their appointment in Townsville, Sammy and James were told they would be required to relocate to Townsville while they waited for their baby to arrive.

“At this point we were 34 weeks. We frantically packed some suitcases, cancelled appointments, swimming lessons, gymnastics and informed our eldest daughter’s school. We sat our six year old down and explained we would all be going to Townsville for at least six weeks.

“The wonderful Lani from Ronald McDonald House called and offered us a room at the House,” Sammy said.

Upon arriving at Ronald McDonald House, the family felt right at home.

“We were warmly welcomed by Lani on our arrival and Aubree was gifted a beautifully handmade teddy which instantly eased all of our nerves. We were shown around the facilities which were immaculately maintained. There were ample cooking spaces, a fabulous outdoor area with a play area and bikes, a library and family room. The bedrooms were spacious and included a balcony. There was ample room for the three of us,” Sammy reflected.

The family were just a short walk away from Townsville University Hospital, easing the burden during a stressful time.

“We could walk across the road and be at the clinic in five minutes. There was a Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Hospital where we could take our daughter in between appointments for a play, and we could debrief. It also meant that when I went into labour, it was stress-free, and we were able to get to the Hospital in record time,” Sammy said.

Donations from the local community made a real difference during their time of need.

“We took our daughter to the Billabong Sanctuary for the day free of charge and regularly supplemented our dinners with donated sides and vegetables that we hadn't remembered to buy at the shops,” Sammy said.

Once baby Lylah had entered the world, having access to ready-made homecooked meals at Ronald McDonald House kept the family nourished in between extended Hospital visits.

"We were so thankful to the volunteers who prepared meals and left them in the communal freezers. This meant we could eat and get back to the Hospital without the stress of meal preparation,” Sammy said.

Looking back, being able to confide in other families going through similar situations was deeply comforting for Sammy and James.

"On reflection, the best part about our stay at Ronald McDonald House was the amazing parents and children that we met during our six week stay. Everyone was so supportive of one another. People were willing to share their stories of hope and heartbreak. It was a community of misplaced parents all wanting the same outcome, for their small humans to receive the best medical attention available and be healthy and happy,” Sammy said.

The family will always remember the difference it made having access to the welcoming, homelike and free accommodation at Ronald McDonald House.

“Without the support of Ronald McDonald House, I can't imagine the additional stress and pressures that would have been placed on our family at a time that was already extremely tumultuous. We will be forever grateful for the support of the House, the staff and wonderful volunteers,” Sammy said.