KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Jessica Lauston, her husband and four of her children like staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Mercy Hospital.
"We love it here," Lauston said.
The family knows it is not permanent, though, since they are waiting for the youngest Lauston, Jude , to come home from the hospital. Before he was born, Jude was diagnosed with 22Q11 Deletion ; a birth defect that has resulted in heart problems.
He did well his first five months. But then, Jude's health turned.
"That's when one of his lungs filled up and stayed filled, and they knew they'd have to go ahead and do the heart surgery or he wouldn't get better," Jessica explained.
The family is taking it day by day as Jude struggles to recover. He needed a tracheostomy so he could breathe. So Jessica taught his siblings how to clean a trach tube, so they'd be ready when he came home.
"They're trying to get him out of the hospital as quick as possible especially with flu season, RSV, starting," she said.
The next problem for the Lauston family is that "home" is Dodge City, Kan., hundreds of miles away.
"The next step for us is to ... find a place to live. We have to stay close to the hospital," she said.
With five kids and a budget for about a three-bedroom place, they have found landlords reluctant to rent to them.
They caught a little break when the Supporting Kids Foundation presented them with a donation. The local dads who started the foundation nearly four years ago understand what families with sick kids go through.
“The treatments are long, two income houses become one income houses, the parents are focused on the child, but then they have these bills piling up at home,” said Tim Lockyear of the Supporting Kids Foundation .
"We wanted to relieve that financial burden so that they could focus their attention on getting their child healthy again."
Jessica was glad for the assistance, and said it would go a long way with getting settled in Kansas City.
"Which is awesome because coming up with the deposit, plus first month's rent and some places want two months rent up front, so that's awesome 'cause that gives us everything we need to get started," she said.
Of course, that still leaves Jessica wondering how her husband can find a job here in town. The foundation is hoping to be able to help there, too.
“We decided just to circle his resume through our network. It just so happened that his skill set is one that matches some folks in our network. So hopefully that will result in an opportunity to get a place to work,” Lockyear noted.
Meantime, the family all turns to Jude for inspiration.
“He’s just really sweet and he’s always, always got a smile in his eyes, even when he’s crying. He knows that he’s going to be OK,” Jessica said.
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