The most heartwarming story of 2018 – Ernie’s journey…

By Helen Shingler:

It’s that time of year when we look back over the highlights as we approach Christmas and a New Year looms on the horizon. For me choosing the most heart-warming story of the year since I started writing for Bude and Beyond was easy.

In the summer, I wrote about little Ernie Cherone and his battle since he entered the world on 6th July 2018. The initial diagnosis soon after birth was that he had a coarctation of the aorta, aortic stenosis and a small left ventricle and possible bicuspid valve. On the 20th of July Ernie underwent a six and a half hour by-pass surgery. Throughout his operation, ongoing treatment and stay in hospital his parents Louie, Gemma and older brother Hobie went through a difficult and stressful time, coping with a newborn who needed long-term hospitalisation a long way from home.

The charity Ronald McDonald House came to the aid of the Cherone family on this occasion and have done for many other families.  Originally set up in the late 1970’s with a connection to MacDonald’s it became an independent charity in the late 1980s. The Houses give families somewhere to lay their heads at night while their child is in hospital. The accommodation is provided free of charge and for as long as families need it, sparing them some of the financial issues that can arise during a prolonged hospital stay. Their Houses are fitted with everything a family could need to make themselves feel at home.

In Louie’s own words: ‘The biggest hurdle we had was that we were not allowed to stay next to him on intensive care. So the Ronald McDonald house put us up in a fantastic room and even some nights provided us with food from the community. This meant we didn’t have to drive the 2 1/2 hour drive to Bristol to see our son and we could be close by when needed.
It also meant with the room our son Hobie could stay and also they have a play area for little ones on site.’

Louie and Gemma wanted to give something back for the fantastic help they received and left a small donation to the charity when they brought Ernie home. Louie hoped to make a more substantial donation through offering one of his boards at House of Cre8tion in a Raffle at £5 a ticket to be drawn on 1st December by Ernie’s big brother Hobie! This escalated with other prizes being donated by those who had been inspired by Ernie’s journey and who appreciate the incredible difference that Ronald McDonald houses make across the country to families who need this help. 

With a list of over 10 prizes when the raffle was drawn on 1st December the total amount raised through the raffle alone was an amazing £1305! Recently the company Jenson R+ Limited, who had already contributed to the raffle with a prize, donated a further £500. The family would like to thank everyone who contributed and to say how much they appreciated it.

Louie and Gemma were absolutely blown away by the generosity of people. All proceeds will go to the charity and will help them to continue to provide this wonderful service to other families like themselves. There is always a very long waiting list for this type of accommodation. We would like to send best wishes to Louie, Gemma, Hobie and Ernie for what will definitely be a very special Christmas for them all.

This is little Ernie Cherone today, I’m sure you can see why I chose his journey as my most heart-warming story of the year.

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