Reclaiming Lives

Family Dealing with Upheaval After Accident Credits House for Helping Them

When so much about their lives changed abruptly, it’s what stayed the same that proved the most reassuring to the DeMott family.

Topping that list was that their family unit remained intact despite an accident that threatened to take 7-year-old Tripp DeMott away from his parents, Elizah and Scotty, and little sister, Shiloh. That togetherness has proved vital to Tripp’s long recovery, and the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House is at the center of their story, says Elizah.

“If a family is going to have to go through something like this, you want to be at the [Atlanta] Ronald McDonald House,” Elizah says, adding that it’s the entirety of what makes the House hum — the staff, volunteers and other families — that has meant so much. “It’s everyone there that you meet along this journey who offer you so much compassion. They really just hold your hand when you feel like you can’t do this on your own.”

Tripp Demott

There’ve many times the DeMotts have needed those hands since September 11, 2019, when Tripp was hit by a car while riding his bicycle in front of their Moultrie, Georgia, home. Airlifted to Tallahassee (Florida) Memorial Healthcare, Tripp underwent surgeries to manage a broken leg, broken pelvis and most seriously, a shattered cranium that required doctors remove pieces of his skull from brain tissue. Some of the young family’s tensest times immediately followed when Tripp’s brain swelled dangerously, then miraculously contracted then swelled again before he finally stabilized for good.

After several weeks of progress, Tripp was ready for rehab at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, where he’d begin the next phase of healing, including therapy to retrain multiple motor skills. It was during this time that Elizah and Scotty were introduced to the Peachtree Dunwoody Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, a place they say became their home away from home and allowed them to reclaim some normalcy.

Once Tripp entered the outpatient rehab program, the couple decided one parent would be with one child at all times, so Scotty stayed with Tripp in Atlanta while Elizah returned to Moultrie to care for 5-year-old Shiloh. The family would reunite each weekend at the House when Elizah and Shiloh would drive to Atlanta.

Elizah says she and Scotty were “blown away” by the House’s amenities — the comfortable beds, alone, were a luxury after weeks of sleeping on pull-out plastic chairs — and found true peace in an environment that was mindful of the entire family’s needs, from toys and fun areas for kids to relaxing spaces for parents.

Without hesitation, she calls the House “a blessing,” underscoring that the short- and long-term impact every donation has on families is invaluable.

“It means everything to us as parents to see them smile again after we’ve gone through some really hard stuff. I think Tripp has loved it so much that he hasn’t missed home that much,” Elizah says. “It’s like a mini vacation for him. It’s like he goes to bootcamp during the day and he gets to come home to almost like this magical place at night.”

After four months at Scottish Rite’s Day Rehab program, Tripp was discharged and returned home to Moultrie full time, where he transitioned to an outpatient facility there. He will continue to visit Scottish Rite over the next several months for rehab sessions, and the DeMott family plans to stay at the Peachtree Dunwoody Atlanta Ronald McDonald House during those trips.