An Unexpected Journey for Adrian and the Senentzes

Three years ago our lives were changed forever. Our 11-year-old son Adrian was participating in a Boy Scout service project. They were clearing a bike path and in the middle was a very big, dead tree. The tree didn’t fall where it was supposed to and landed directly on our son.

Adrian nearly died. In addition to breaking too many bones to count, he suffered a nerve injury affecting the use of his hand and arm and a traumatic brain injury. After two weeks in a coma, multiple surgeries, and a five-week stay in the PICU in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he was stable enough to be transferred. When we arrived in Atlanta, we didn’t know what we were going to do. That’s when the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House came to our rescue.

Walking through the doors of the House, we knew we were in a special place. We were greeted with kindness and blown away by the facilities. Little did we know we would be back and forth for two and a half years because of the specialists and therapists Adrian needs to see. They simply do not exist in Chattanooga.

In October 2018, we came for what was supposed to be a four-day trip. Five months later, we are still here. Adrian is receiving robotics therapy at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and multiple therapies at the Shepherd Center. Without ARMHC and the donors who support it, Adrian wouldn’t get the care he needs.

While we receive food and shelter at the Ronald McDonald House, we have found so much more. We have received love, empathy and compassion. The House even gave Adrian back the gift of music.

Before the accident, Adrian played the cello. During the accident, he lost the use of his left hand. After multiple surgeries we were told there wasn’t anything else that could be done.

Then we started the robotics program. It was a game changer. Adrian can now pinch with his thumb and forefinger. Once he had that pinch, he could push down on some strings.

Scott, one of the Peachtree Dunwoody House managers, challenged Adrian to play a simple song on his cello for Christmas. It seemed impossible, but with Scott’s encouragement and support Adrian played Jingle Bells all the way through.

Adrian hadn’t played a song on the cello since the accident, but Scott gave our son confidence and the gift of music back. It takes a special person to do that. While that certainly wasn’t in his job description, it speaks to how much the staff really care about the kids and families. Our son has come to love the people at ARMHC and he is always excited to see his favorite managers and Betty Lou!

We have spent more than 250 nights at the Ronald McDonald House and call ourselves “frequent flyers.” During our stays we formed lasting friendships with staff and other families. You might think the House would be a sad place, but all we see are the happy smiles and laughter that togetherness brings. We are all in the same boat, and the parents and kids support one another. It truly is an amazing place. We wouldn’t be able to stay in Atlanta for Adrian’s care without you and this House.

—Amanda Senentz