The Breon Family
April and Jerrett Breon’s daughter Rachel was born three months early on November 13, 2010 in Huntingdon, PA. Since the hospital there was not equipped for the level of care she required, baby Rachel was flown to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to receive life-saving care.
Although the Breons were able to stay with family in Hershey during what turned out to be Rachel’s three-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), parents April, Jerrett and their two young sons Justin and Tyler (ages 5 and 3 at the time) often sought comfort and respite in the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside the hospital. The family greatly appreciated the friendly volunteers and the comforting amenities of the Family Room while they were spending their days in the hospital to be close to Rachel.
“When I think back on that time, my memories include lots of coffee! We lived on the coffee from the Family Room,” April shared.
Another lasting memory is how the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central PA staff and volunteers looked out for her young sons, Rachel’s brothers, Justin and Tyler. Rachel’s treatment extended over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season that year, and also over Justin’s birthday, and April remembers how the volunteers and staff made those celebrations special for her sons with extra care and attention just for them.
“They really took care of the siblings and that Christmas, they made it very special for the boys while we were away from home. We were so appreciative of that thoughtfulness,” April remembered.
April was also grateful that the Family Room provided a place for her and Jerrett to connect with other parents whose children were receiving medical care during the same time, and to comfort and support one another.
After 84 days of treatment in the NICU, Rachel was released from the Hospital on her original due date. Now living in Lewistown, the family travels back to Hershey annually with Rachel to see her neurology specialist. The now nine year-old Rachel is healthy and doing well, but gets yearly check-ups for her visual impairment and the shunt in her head that diverts fluid away from her brain to ensure a normalized flow and absorption of her cerebral spinal fluid. When she comes to town for that appointment, she always brings aluminum tabs to donate to the collection container at Ronald McDonald House. A can of Pepsi is one of Rachel’s favorite special sweet treats, and she always saves the tab to donate back to our House!
We are grateful for the Breon family and all the families that stay connected to us after their stays here at the House or their time using the services of our Ronald McDonald Family Room or Hospitality Cart.
Like Rachel and her Pepsi tabs, our staff, volunteers and supporters also like to stay connected and “keep tabs” on our families by hearing their stories and updates.