Young girl holds her sleeping baby brother in her arms and sits in the lap of the Ronald McDonald statue.

Growing Circle of Support

“I always told my daughter, if you need me, I will be there,” says Benjamin LaSalle.
“You take care of two things in life…yourself and your family.”

It was March 22 and the phone rang at 4 a.m. in Puerto Rico.  Benjamin LaSalle’s daughter, Janette Garcia, was calling to tell her parents that at 24 weeks pregnant she was going into premature labor. She needed her parents now. By 12:30 p.m., Benjamin and Haydee arrived in Texas for what would be a five-month stay.

Baby Johnathan was born a mere 1 pound 4 ounces. He was tiny, fragile and had a long road ahead of him. He was transferred to St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, 60 miles away from home.

During the first week of Johnathan’s life, Janette and her parents trekked the distance to the hospital. Besides the emotional anxiety of having a premature baby and a grueling drive to the hospital, Janette and her husband had two small children at home, which added even more stress.

When a social worker at St. David’s suggested Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Texas, life got a little easier. At the end of March, Janette, her parents and two children, Javan, age 6, and Julieanna, age 4, moved into the Ronald McDonald House®. With the entire family together, they could focus on Johnathan’s healing. Javan and Julieanna were enrolled in a school near RMHC Central Texas.  Benjamin and Haydee were able to give them the attention they needed, along with some normalcy, so Janette and her husband could be there for Johnathan.

“It’s wonderful to know that a family with a sick child can come from anywhere and RMHC CTX will welcome them,” says Benjamin. “They made our lives easier with all the comforts of home, the nurturing support and the opportunity to meet other families to share stories.  When we finally got to take Johnathan home, we could stand back and say the RMHC CTX staff, volunteers and the families became our friends. Our circle of support grew beyond my family and we are forever grateful.”