The Grubbs Family

Four years ago, at the age of nine, Emma Grubbs was diagnosed with an eating disorder called Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). Her family sought after several different treatment centers near their home in South Carolina but quickly realized that because of her age, there was a “lack of knowledge” surrounding ARFID in the eating disorder community.

The Grubbs family were not ready to give up just yet. They did a lot of research surrounding ARFID and found Dr. Rollyn Ornstein’s name consistently popping up in their searches. Dr. Ornstein specialized in eating disorders and has conducted extensive research surrounding children diagnosed with ARFID, helping to educate the community.

Wanting the best care for Emma, the Grubbs knew that they would need to travel to Hershey, Pennsylvania for Emma to participate in Dr. Ornstein’s program at Penn State Health Medical Group Briarcrest – Adolescent Medicine.

According to Emma’s mom, Allison, they immediately started looking for Airbnb’s and a car to rent. “We immediately were overwhelmed. It was going to be at least $5,000 to travel and stay here for Emma’s treatment.”

There had to be another option. The treatment center quickly told Allison about the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Hershey.

Our Ronald McDonald House® is built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I called the House to find out that it was completely free to stay for families of pediatric patients at Penn State Health and was also within walking distance to the treatment center,” Allison said. “Everything from dinners each night, to a hot breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings, free laundry and Wi-Fi, all are provided at no cost to the families.”

During their stay at the RMH, Emma celebrated her 13th Birthday. Emma, along with her family and new friends from the RMH, celebrated in July and made sure it was a birthday she will never forget.

“The volunteers and staff always have a smile on their face and are willing to help in any way possible to make you feel comfortable and at home,” Allison said. “I can’t imagine how things would have turned out if it weren’t for the Ronald McDonald House and the community here in Hershey.”

The Grubbs family stayed at the RMH for a total of 52 nights.

“I don’t know if we could have afforded to come all the way to Hershey from South Carolina and get Emma the help she needed if it wasn’t for the RMH,” Allison said. “I can’t say thank you enough to this organization for everything that they have done for my family.”

Help keep families like the Grubbs together here in Hershey by donating to RMHC of Central PA today at rmhc-centralpa.org/donate.