A normal day at kindy took a turn for the worse and life for the Bateman family from Palmerston North changed drastically. When playing outside two-year-old Toby picked up a leaf to show his teacher, and when she bent down she noticed that his pupils were different sizes.
It didn’t take long before Toby was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. His diagnosis meant the family had to travel to Wellington for specialist treatment for Toby. Parents Bronwyn and Damon were both worried about how they could afford to keep their close-knit family of six together. Luckily for the family, Ronald McDonald House became their second home.
Staying at the House has given the Batemans a chance to stay together and feel supported. They have come to know the staff well, helping them to feel more at home. “The families staying here all understand your exact situation and the staff are just wonderful. You have so much support that it doesn’t feel all bad,” said Bronwyn.
The dinner programme in the House has also relieved some pressure off the parents, knowing they don’t have to cook and can enjoy the experience of a home cooked meal as a family.
Despite their situation and after finding out that their two other sons Lachie and Sam might have a similar condition, they count themselves lucky. “We can focus on our family instead of worrying about all of the costs. It’s still hard but easier to manage because of Ronald McDonald House”.
All of the family have come to enjoy the House. Lachie and Sam love the Games Room. If they had it their way, they would stay in there all day and night. Toby’s older sister Charlotte’s favourite place is the Art Room where she loves being able to express herself creatively. Toby loves to visit the tiger in the theatre. He is also a real explorer – you can often find him hiding in the cupboards around the House.
The family is doing well and continue to stay at the House when Toby needs treatment in Wellington. Bronwyn explained that they were initially worried about Toby being afraid of the hospital. He has come to love Ronald McDonald House so much that the hospital and surgeries aren’t scary.