The Krugers

Finding Comfort In Normalcy

“There is no way, we could get the care Hunter needs without the Ronald McDonald House,” says Maria Kruger. “The Ronald House keeps our kid alive.”

When their son, Hunter, was 19 months old, his doctors told Kevin and Maria Kruger, to go home and enjoy their remaining time with him. The doctors could not find the source of his internal bleeding. Rather than give up, they sought a second opinion in Atlanta.

Hunter and his big sister Sofia

Hunter and big sister Sofia Kruger on Christmas Day. The hospital allowed Sofia to visit Hunter. It was the first time she has seen her little brother in more than 90 days.

“That trip, Hunter was at Egleston in cardiac distress. My husband was in New York. I’m in the hospital room. I didn’t have any clothes — nothing,” Maria remembers. “I recall a feeling of relief when the social worker said to me, ‘you’re from out of state. We are going to get you into the Ronald McDonald House.’”

“To be honest, we have two in Raleigh, North Carolina, and before I never knew what the Houses were about,” she adds. “Hunter’s illness has been eye-opening.”

Hunter, now 5, is in the PICU at Egleston with gastrointestinal bleeding. He has needed multiple transfusions in the 46 days he has been in the hospital. During COVID-19 alone, they have stayed with us for 99 nights, both in the hotels and at our House near Egleston.

Being at the House establishes a kind of normalcy, Maria says. “You can do laundry. Pre-COVID, access to the kitchen enabled us to cook. For now, being able to do laundry makes me feel a little more human,” she adds.

“One of the biggest challenges of COVID is not being able to cook in the kitchen,” Maria, a professional photographer, says. “The pandemic is taking away every little bit of normalcy.” Maria added cooking is one of her coping strategies and she normally likes cooking for other families when they are with us, as well as taking photos of families.

What helps the most are the staff and other families, Maria says. “There is always someone there to listen and hear things out. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. The staff become part of the family. Being at the House feels like home.”