Red Shoe Crawl Benefits RMHC & Helps Keep Families Close

By Chelsea Irvine

Chelsea Irvine
Chelsea Irvine

The presents from Hayden’s first birthday party were barely put away when the news came.

“Your child has cancer.”

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

To say the situation was serious would not adequately illustrate its magnitude.  The hospital in Chico was not equipped to handle this kind of care, therefore the next step was to airlift Hayden to UC Davis Children’s Hospital & Pediatric Cancer Center in Sacramento, a two-hour drive away.  There simply wasn’t time to drive.

DrivingThat was the beginning of Hayden’s cancer fight, which has now lasted more than two years.  

On March 23rd, 2014, the Wyman family arrived in Sacramento. For the first few nights, they took turns spending the night in a nearby hotel.  However, the cost of travel from their home in Oroville, the hotel, food and other necessities was substantial, so the family began taking turns sleeping in the chairs in Hayden’s hospital room, or in the family car.   They had to be as close as possible while their son underwent daily testing and treatments, so this became their best choice.

It was at the end of April they received the call from the Sacramento Ronald McDonald House(RMHC®).  There was a room available, walking distance from the hospital, for their family.  

When Madison and her husband arrived at the RMHC®, they were greeted with smiles and hugs.  They were shown their home, complete with a warm bed, their own bathroom and even a shared kitchen, stocked with food.

“I remembered her giving me a huge hug and saying they would be there for us,” Madison told me recently.  “They gave us a tour, showing us the kitchen.  They told us ‘You don’t need to worry about finding a laundry mat, there is laundry detergent and free laundry services here for you.’  They were truly amazing to us from day one.  They even gave us a quilted blanket for him and a toy to take to the hospital for him.”

haydenThe first eight or nine months were the worst.  Treatment was aggressive and nonstop.

“You see your baby, who just grew all of his hair, lose it all in a matter of weeks,” Madison remembers, her voice quivering through her tears.  “He got so skinny.  He was so sick.  You just have to trust the doctors, and the staff.”

Through every rough day, little Hayden stayed brave.  Seeing his smiling face was what kept the Wyman family going.  Clearly he knew he had to stay strong for everyone.

During the first several months Hayden spent at the hospital, he stayed in a crib most of the time. However, when he was well enough to, he was able to stay with his family at the Sacramento Ronald McDonald House.  In fact, it was at the RMH House that Hayden took his first steps.  His family was there to see it; and the staff at RMH the House were lucky enough to be there too, as he learned to maneuver the world on foot.

“Since he was diagnosed at one-year-old, all he’s known was the hospital and doctors,” Madison told me.  “I wouldn’t have chosen any other place to be his new normal.  If we needed to talk, if we needed anything they could provide, they did.  Ronald McDonald House Charities® truly was our home away from home.”

hayden2Thankfully, Hayden Wyman is now in remission from his Leukemia.  He still receives oral chemotherapy every night at home and has to make a trip back to Sacramento every month for high-dose chemo treatments (and lumbar punctures every third month).

Though the monthly treatments still make Hayden sick, he is a caring, fun-loving three-year-old toddler.  

“Stuff like this will either make you or break you,” said Madison. “But this is definitely turning him into a caring, compassionate little person.”

Hayden’s monthly appointments will continue for another year, at which point his trips to Sacramento will be further apart, though he will not be considered cancer-free until after treatment is completed and five years of blood tests come back clear.

When the family comes to town for his treatments, they make a point, if there is room available, to stay at the RMHC® so they can see their second family.

“It wasn’t easy,” Madison admitted.  “It’s never easy on a parent.  The Ronald McDonald House Charities® staff makes it so your priority is your child.”

The Sacramento Ronald McDonald House requests a $20 fee per night from parents.  For many families, the medical costs alone make that amount difficult.  The average paid per family is $11, though no payment is officially required.  

After a recent expansion, RMHC® can now house 38 families every night.  And nearly every night, RMHC is at capacity, helping families who might otherwise be sleeping in their car like the Wymans.

But you can help.

This Sunday, June 26th is the Seventh Annual Red Shoe Crawl in Midtown Sacramento.

Starting at 1:00pm and kicking off at the brand-new Midtown hot spot Saddle Rock, you make your own route through Midtown and Downtown Sacramento.  30 of your favorite local restaurants, coffee houses, yogurt shops and candy stores are offering a bite and a drink, all included in the ticket price of $60 general or $80 VIP.  VIP tickets get you an hour early registration at the Sheraton, with VIP-only venders.  

A family-friendly event, this is the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon exploring our great city while enjoying the best food and drink it has to offer.  There is even a shuttle offered from the furthest locations Andy’s Candy Apothecary and Blackbird Kitchen and Bar back to the starting point.  

The ticket price of $60 covers three nights at the Ronald McDonald House for a family like Hayden’s.  

  • What: 7th Annual Red Shoe Crawl Benefitting Ronald McDonald House
  • When: Sunday June 26, 1PM
  • Where: Saddle Rock Restaurant and 30 of the best local restaurants, coffee shops, and more



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