DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — For 40 years the Ronald McDonald house has been making a difference in the Miami Valley, providing a place for families to stay close to the hospital when their child needs critical care.

One Darke County family had to lean on that support more than once. The Ronald McDonald House has become home for Ashley Tuco twice. Her first brush was 6 years ago when her son Gavin had to go into the hospital at just two-weeks-old after he was diagnosed as failure to thrive due to poor weight gain.

“Being a new mom and my husband worked third shift at the time, we live in Arcanum actually, so coming back and forth to Dayton was kind of more tedious than we would expect,” says Ashley.

Her son was in the hospital a little less than a week. At that time, the Ronald McDonald House served as more of an escape for Ashley, only having to stay overnight for a couple days.

“I just walked across the street for a meal or a shower, a place to take a nap, to recover,” describes Ashley.

It was a glimpse into the charity, but her real eye-opener came years later when her daughter Adalynn was born at Kettering Medical Center in January 2019. Addi went straight to the NICU after she was born with breathing complications.

“The mom in me wanted to be at the hospital as much as possible, but also wanted to be home with Gavin who was four at the time” says Ashley.

The Ronald McDonald House allowed her to do that. It became home to not only Ashley but also her husband Chris and son for nearly a month.

“Money is not an issue. They always ask for a donation,” states Ashley. “But never in a million years would my family have been able to afford a hotel for 21 days.”

It was one less thing for Ashley to worry about during a time when there were a lot of unknowns.

“It takes off the burden. When you have a sick kid in the hospital–or anyone in the hospital, honestly–the last thing you want to worry about is where am I going to find a meal, where am I going to have a place to stay,” says Ashley.

For Ashley and her family, it provided both the physical and emotional comfort they needed until the whole family could be back in their own home in Arcanum.

“Everybody is going through something there. We made friends with a family from New York, and just to hear each other’s stories– like everybody is going through something, but everybody is going through something different. There’s a lot of people you can relate to while you’re there,” describes Ashley.

Donate to the Ronald McDonald House by clicking here.