PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Next week, we will be raising money to help families of children who need medical care. Our Ronald McDonald House Charities Virtual Telethon will air on Nov. 24 on CBS3.
Staying at the Ronald McDonald House is a safe haven in the middle of the storm and it’s a place children love.
Our Don Bell introduces us to Mason, a little guy who has a lot of Philadelphia pride.
You’re never too young to learn the Eagles fight song! And just like our 2018 Super Bowl champs and of course, Rocky Balboa, little Mason Spencer has the heart of a champion with some Philly attitude thrown in.
“He just has a sense of pride about Philly,” Mason’s father, Rich Spencer, said. “He’s pretty much lived in Philly because of Children’s Hospital his whole life.”
You’d never know it, but this plucky 3-year-old just had a kidney transplant in December. Mason developed end-stage renal failure when he was a few weeks old.
“We were definitely heartbroken, scared,” Mason’s mother, Erica Spencer, said. “A lot of the time we were scared for him. In the beginning, we were told many times they were not certain if he would make it or not.”
But Mason grew stronger each day and every step of the way, his mom and dad were by his side, with Rich driving back and forth to Children’s Hospital from their home in Langhorne.
“Every day he was leaving, going to work, coming back and he was exhausted,” Erica said. “We weren’t eating, we were kinda just grabbing whatever we could from the cafeteria but a lot of times it was snacks.”
Then the Spencer family came to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
“I walked in, it was obviously very emotional, I didn’t see myself ever having to have this sort of need,” Rich said. “Meeting the volunteers, as I walked through the door, that’s when I knew I started to feel a little bit more at home.”
“When we’re focusing on him, the volunteers here are focusing on us,” Erica said.
Keeping families close, that’s what the Ronald McDonald House does best, but it provides so much more than that.
“We’re able to save money from getting a hotel, meals, being able to sleep and rest,” Erica said. “When you’re in here, even though you’re going through something scary, it really is a safe haven because everybody is going through it.”
Erica used to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, but she never thought she’d be a guest.
“When I was a volunteer, I never truly knew what it meant to be on the other side and the first day that I walked in and came in to get a meal with my family, it just, it’s a feeling of, oh my gosh. It’s an overwhelming sense of appreciation,” she said.
After a total of 11 surgeries, the Spencers are grateful that Mason is thriving.
“He’s an amazing kid,” Erica said. “He’s tough. He’s been through so much and he smiles the whole way through. He laughs. He wants to act like any other 3-year-old.”
You can help children just like Mason. Join us Tuesday for our Ronald McDonald House Charities Virtual Telethon. It’s from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also join in on Twitter and at cbsphilly.com/rmhc.