The Clare Family - Palmerston North

Jonty's Journey: 

In the heart of Palmerston North is where the remarkable Clare family live. Mum Kerri, Dad Brendan and wonderful kids: Jonty, Millie and Eliza have a home filled with laughter, love and sense of purpose that has, and will continue to inspire the entire community.  

Last year, Jonty with his infectious empathy, embarked on a journey that went beyond the ordinary – the House to House Challenge. However, this adventure was not just a test of physical endurance; it was a mission fueled by deep-rooted compassion. Jonty’s heart was set on raising funds, for a cause that was profoundly personal and to help families like his own.  

In 2015, Jonty faced an unimaginable medical crisis – a tumor pressing on his brain. This unforeseen challenge thrust the Clare family into the complex world of medical treatments and surgeries. In the years that followed, Jonty underwent eight neurosurgeries, three years of chemotherapy and grappled with underlying medical conditions.  

 While in the midst of this rollercoaster, The Clare family was introduced to Ronald McDonald House Charities®. RMHC® NZ became more than just a temporary residence; it became a sanctuary where the Clare family found relief and support during the worst times in their lives.  

 “Ronald McDonald House is just the most amazing facility. It takes away a whole lot of that admin stuff that you don’t need to think about when you’ve got a sick child. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat for dinner, or where you’re going to sleep. It’s all there, so you can concentrate on helping your child through their medical journey”. 

Their initial arrival at RMHC was a blur of emotions – exhaustion and worry, but they had the warmth of having their family by their side. As Jonty battled his medical conditions, the Clare family found community at the House. “One of the benefits of Ronald McDonald House is making connections with other families going through similar medical journeys.” It is a community bonded by shared experiences that nobody, unless they’ve been in a similar position, can understand.   

 For the Clare family, RMHC is like a second home. “The kids love going there, they love all the staff, they know where to find all the toys and things to do. It’s kind of like going to Grandma and Grandad’s house!”. The family have been staying there since 2015 and have gone back often since then, when needed. It has been a lifeline, especially because like Mum Keri says, “you don’t ever know when you’re going to need it”. 

 The House to House challenge came at the perfect time, and Jonty decided her was going to turn this challenge into an opportunity to really make a difference. His heart was set on raising funds for RMHC New Zealand, a cause that meant so much to him and his family.  

 However, fate had other plans. About halfway through the challenge, Jonty faced and unexpected hurdle – appendicitis. Despite completing an impressive 26 kilometres in a single day, his journey was abruptly halted as he found himself in the hospital. Surgery became necessary, putting him out of action for two weeks.  

 Incredibly, this setback turned into something remarkable. The Clare family along with the support of Jonty’s friends, decided to carry the torch forward. This is when ‘Friends of Jonty’ was born, a team of enthusiastic kids pedalling kilometres to contribute to the House to House Challenge. Together, they passed all expectations biking over 2,000 kilometres and raising more than $12,500 for RMHC New Zealand.  

 Reflecting on their journey, Kerri emphasises the silver linings. The trials they faced revealed life’s true priorities – family, friends and meaningful connections. The House to House challenge and the Friends of Jonty not only raised funds for a great cause but highlighted the power of unity and compassion.  

 “House to House encourages people to get out, get some exercise, and set a goal. And I think that was really cool for the kids to do, being able to set themselves their own target and work towards it. I think it’s something that’s great for kids and families to get involved in.”   

 Jonty, his family and his friends are a true inspiration to everyone. They are a reminder that even if the darkest moments, the light of love and compassions will shine through.