19 Feb Meet the Woodruff Family
Atlanta’s two Ronald McDonald Houses provide a safe haven to families when the unexpected strikes. For the Woodruff family, the unexpected happened on August 23, 2013, when Ben Woodruff was driving home with his two children, Kate and Ethan. Just moments from home, their car was hit head-on by a driver under the influence of drugs. Ben did not survive. Kate, 5, had minor wounds, but Ethan, 6, suffered numerous injuries including a traumatic brain injury. For the next 49 days, Ethan remained in critical care fighting for his life.
With his mom Beth by his side Ethan’s condition improved, but due to the severity of his brain injury he would require rehabilitation. The Woodruff family visited many hospitals in search of the best rehab center for Ethan and they found the perfect fit at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. With their home in Tennessee, Beth knew her family would need a place to stay close by the hospital – that is when Beth heard about the Ronald McDonald House. “Being able to be in that rehab program and stay at the Ronald McDonald House has really made a difference in Ethan’s progress,” says Beth.
While at the Peachtree Dunwoody House, the Woodruff’s gained a new support system in the staff and families at the House. “The Ronald McDonald House makes me feel a little less alone,” Beth describes. “There’s something to be said about the fact that people here understand… There’s a real sense of camaraderie.” Not only did Beth gain new friends while at the House, she gained a renewed sense of strength that allowed her to focus on Ethan’s health.
For months, Ethan continued to recover from his brain injury with rehab that focused on cognitive thought processes, feeding and eating, and physical therapy. “When we first arrived in Atlanta in October, Ethan could do a thumbs up and that was it,” Beth describes. “He has come very far.” In early February, Ethan graduated from the rehab program in Atlanta. Since then the Woodruff family has moved back home where Ethan continues to work on his recovery. Beth explains, “He worked so hard, and continues to work hard on his recovery each day.”