08 Jun Celebrating 10 Years of Keeping Families Close at Our House Near Egleston: The Spadgenskes’ Story
Over the years we’ve been so proud to watch Lily and Sawyer Spadgenske grow up at our Ronald McDonald House on Gatewood Road near Egleston.
The Spadgenske family first came to know the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House as their home away from home 22 years ago shortly after Lily was born. At just a month old, doctors diagnosed Lily with a rare life-threatening liver disorder which required a transplant for her survival. The news was a shock to young parents, Eric and Jennifer, who lived three hours away in Hinesville, Georgia.
“It was such a blessing to have this soft place to land,” Jennifer said. “We had this new baby who was so sick, and we were hundreds of miles from home. When we checked in we just knew we had a safe place to get away and rest our heads and get a break from the hospital.”
Four years later, Jennifer and Eric’s son, Sawyer, was born with the same disorder and received a liver transplant when he was just 10 days old. For six weeks, the Gatewood House was home to Jennifer, Eric, and Lily, who was then 4 years old. “It was important to Eric and me to keep our family together, and we were able to do that thanks to the House. Being able to have Lily with us, while we cared for Sawyer in the hospital was a huge blessing.”
In 2010, Sawyer needed a second transplant when he was 10 years old. This time, they stayed in the new transplant wing at the Gatewood House with 14-year-old Lily at her brother’s side.
Today, Sawyer, 18, is a rising high school senior and Lily, 22, will begin pursuing her master’s degree in psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi this fall. Despite everything she and her brother have been through, the Ronald McDonald House has always helped keep their family close.
“There were some years we were at the House and the hospital more than we were at our own home,” said Jennifer tearfully. “The House means more to us than we can even truly say. It’s been more than 22 years that we’ve been coming, and the people we’ve met there are like family to us. They love us, and it shows. And we love them back. We’re so thankful for this House and the people who run it and the amazing thing that it does for families of sick kids.”