Just north of Whangarei, resides The Holdaway Family whose lives were forever changed in April 2023. Grace and Joshua, along with their four children had been living a peaceful life – Joshua a hard-working labourer and Grace, a dedicated mother and home-school teacher. Little did they know that their lives were about to be turned upside down and their resilience be tested when their youngest son Zion (2) was diagnosed with cancer.
Their journey with the Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) New Zealand began shortly after Zion’s diagnosis. It was an extremely challenging time for their family of seven, but RMHC NZ proved to be a 'home-away-from home' and helped guide them through some of their darkest days.
From the moment they first stepped into the Ronald McDonald House, they were greeted with warmth and compassion. It was more than just a place to stay for them; it was a place for hope and healing.
They were blown away by the tremendous support and extremely grateful for all the hardworking staff and volunteers who helped make the House feel like a home for the next two months of their lives. Their appreciation extends to the generous donors who made RMHC a haven for not only their family but for countless families facing challenging medical situations. The family understood that this place was a lifeline, offering support to those who had nowhere else to turn.
For Zion, the youngest warrior in their family, the presence of this family during treatments became his source of strength. Daily interactions with his parents and siblings brought a sense of normality to his life, elevating his spirits during treatments and helping with his recoveries. The bond between The Holdaway Family grew stronger as they faced this journey together.
One of the most impactful aspects of their stay was the shared meals provided by the House. Chef Heath and the dedicated volunteers created not only delicious meals but also a sense of community around the dining table. "The shared meals put on by the house have been a huge help to us. Chef Heath is a legend, and all the volunteers are amazing to come in and serve all the families. In a time when we don't have a regular income and grocery prices are through the roof, it is two less nights a week to worry about feeding the family."
Throughout this trying period in their lives, the family found themselves overwhelmed at times, but RMHC NZ ensured that they remained a united front and could be firmly by Zion’s side.
“The fact that we have been able to stay together as a family and support Zion has been incredible and made this journey a bonding experience for us. Without RMHC, it would not have been viable for us to stay together, and Zion would have struggled through treatments much more than he has."
As they reflected on their journey, Grace and Joshua both agreed that RMHC was more than just an organisation; it was a lifeline that had carried them through their most challenging trial in life. "I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who has made the RMHC possible. During our hardest trial in life, we couldn't have done it on our own and we want to say thank you to each and every donor, staff member and volunteer who has come alongside us and helped carry this burden. And not only for us but for the countless people who have been blessed by this organisation throughout New Zealand."
The House was a beacon of hope for The Holdaway Family and proves that love and support can light the way, even in the darkest times. In the face of adversity, Zion and his family found hope and strength and without RMHC NZ the family wouldn’t be able to give Zion what he needed most… to be by his side.