Imagine the stress and uncertainty of caring for your sick or injured child. Add to it that the medical care they need is not available in your home community, so you travel far from home to ensure your child receives the best care possible. The stress, uncertainty, and worry are unbearable.

That’s where Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central and Northern Arizona comes in.

The House is committed to keeping families together when it matters most by offering them a welcoming place to stay close to where their children are receiving care, while also providing nourishing meals and a support system of other families going through similar experiences.

One of the families who found their “home-away-from-home” at Ronald McDonald House® is the Lucero family from Yuma, Arizona. They stayed at our Cambridge House while their 10-month-old son John was receiving treatment for hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, a birth defect in which the left side of his heart did not develop.

John’s diagnosis meant heart surgery at just eight days old. Although John’s medical needs were uncertain, parents Annie and Brian and big brother Elliot knew they could turn to Ronald McDonald House. “Home is where we are,” Brian said back in 2018. “Right now, that’s Ronald McDonald House.”

After many ups and downs, John was put on the heart transplant list. And while waiting for a heart they found the comfort, stability, and togetherness they desperately needed at Ronald McDonald House. “When we go home, I’ll remember the House gave us the ability to stay together as a family,” Annie said.

Their prayers were answered in February 2019 – a heart was ready for John. After a healthy recovery, after 496 nights at the House, the Lucero’s packed up and headed home to Yuma.

Even though his post-transplant hasn’t been without a few scares, John and his family are getting ready to celebrate his 3rd “heartiversary,” celebrating a life-changing day in their family’s history.

“John is making up for lost time and catching up on milestones that were delayed from his time in the hospital,” Annie shared recently. “He will be on immunosuppressant medications for the rest of his life, which seems a small price to pay for every day we all get to spend together.”

In January, John began his first soccer season, is learning to ride a bike, tries to copy everything his older brother Elliot does and was promoted to big brother himself when his little brother Thomas was born.

Although the family is thriving, the 496 nights spent at the House has not faded from their hearts. “We will forever remember our time at Ronald McDonald House with a smile and unending gratitude,” Annie shared. “There is no other word for the House but ‘home,’ and that is exactly what it was for our family while we navigated some of our most difficult days.”

Ronald McDonald House can support families like the Lucero’s and thousands of others because the community comes together to share their hearts and hands with us. We invite YOU to become a friend of the House by making a gift that keeps families together at Donations made by Tax Day (4/15/21) up to $400/individual or $800/couple are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar credit on your 2021 Arizona state tax filings.

Another way to provide the comforts of home to families is by purchasing items off our House Wish List. Learn more about our most needed items at However, you decide to support, we can make sure families can be together when it matters most.

Posted by Annelise Patterson