Each year one family who previously stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan is selected to kick off the annual Run for the House. This year, the VanNortwick family of Shiawassee County kicked off the 2016 Run for the House on Saturday, March 19th.

When twins Abigail and Hunter were born, the VanNortwick family encountered the devastating news that Abigail could go home but Hunter would need to be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Being from Shiawassee County, the VanNortwick family faced the challenge of living too far from the hospital to commute back and forth with a newborn.

“The Ronald McDonald House was there for us. They allowed us to stay and be close to our son and keep Abigail with us,” Jennifer VanNortwick said. “While we were only at the House for a week, that week made all of our stress melt away. We knew we were close to our son if he needed us and we could visit him multiple times a day.”

The Run for the House raises funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan, a home-away-from-home for families whose child is hospitalized or receiving treatment. Each year, the House hosts hundreds of families who stay an average of more than two weeks. In 2014-2015, for example, more than 30 Shiawassee County families stayed at the House.

The House receives 79 percent of its annual funding from the community, including money raised through events such as the Run for the House.

“Our organization aims to help a vast community throughout the greater Mid-Michigan region,” Carolyn Hurst, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan said. “Hosting a large community event such as the Run for the House is reflective of the large community who supports the House and the large community the House serves."

The Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan’s Run for the House also served as the kickoff for the 2016 Playmakers Greater Lansing Race Series. The Run for the House is presented by Delta Dental. New this year, the Run for the House’s participation in the Greater Lansing Race Series is expanded to include all the races — the 5K, 10K, and Kids Mile and Sprint.

The Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan serves families from around the state and beyond who have a child in one of the local hospitals or clinics. It has served thousands of families by providing them a warm and caring home-away-from-home where they can have home cooked meals, a place for siblings to play and a comfortable space to sleep close to the hospital room where they spend countless hours with an ill child.

For more information about the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan, visit https://rmhmm.org/ and learn more about the VanNortwick’s story here.