Jennifer & Cory Matticola at the Gatewood Ronald McDonald House in September 2013
Do you ever wonder who it is you are supporting when you support Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities? In Atlanta, our two Houses are home to nearly 2,000 families each year, offering comfort and respite when an unimaginable illness or injury strikes. Here is one family’s story.
Jennifer Matticola was 29 weeks pregnant when she discovered her daughter, Camryn, would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrom (HLHS), a congenital heart defect in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. After traveling to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston from their home in LaGrange, Georgia, Jennifer and her husband Cory were in an unfamiliar city and unsure of the future. “We met a social worker that day at the hospital and they gave us the contact information for the Ronald McDonald House because they knew we would be staying here for a long time,” Jennifer describes.
Camryn was born just ten-weeks later and underwent her first open heart surgery shortly after. Jennifer had the opportunity to hold her for the first time in weeks. “She loves to be held again. She went right to sleep in my arms,” Jennifer explains. Although Camryn spent the first month of her life in the hospital, Jennifer and Cory rest easy at the Ronald McDonald House knowing they are just steps away from their baby girl.
Jennifer and Cory continued to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, where they are able to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine. Cory, a project manager for a contracting company, was able to work from the House thanks to amenities such as computers and wireless internet. Jennifer and Cory were at the hospital most of the day, returning to the House for meals and for Cory to work. They received support not only from other families at the House but also from the community of LaGrange, where the school Jennifer teaches at is in a friendly competition to collect pop tabs for the House.
Sadly, on November 11, 2013 sweet Camryn passed away. A week later Cory returned to ARMHC to inquire how he can help. "We want to help raise funds for the House and help other families," said Cory, "This House helped keep us less stressed during a very difficult time and we want other families to be able to experience that."
Camryn MatticolaBorn August 24, 2013
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