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Leah and Claire

Leah and Claire are best friends. They share a love for twirling, butterflies, and their families. For Leah’s recent birthday, they wore matching butterfly dresses.

If you met them now, you’d never guess that just a few months ago, they were strangers. They lived in different parts of the United States, with no reason for their lives to cross. Then, due to extremely challenging circumstances, they met at a place where they could laugh and have fun, share secrets and toys, and find joy in scary situations. A place where they could forge a forever friendship.

That is what RMHC provides to families with children being treated for devastating illnesses – a community of emotional support and compassionate care.

“It's most definitely a blessing to be able to connect with families who truly understand the heartache of our journey's,” Leah’s mom, Tonya, shared. [Claire’s mom] Anna and I were going through similar yet different processes. Both our girls had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant. But the girls diagnoses were different. Even though they were, our doubts, fears and anxiety were the same. We were able to share that with one another, we were able to fully understand the extent of our hurt, and it's what we needed.

While their treatments lead both their families to Cincinnati, RMHC led Leah and Claire to the friendship they both needed. They have spent holidays, birthdays and just about every day possible together since they met. Between treatments at the hospital, they find many things to do at the local Ronald McDonald House together that helps take their minds off their illness. Whether they are playing games in the playroom, exploring the outdoor space, or decorating cookies in the kitchen, Leah and Claire are typical four-year-olds together, despite their treatment schedules and diagnoses.

And RMHC knows that is essential to helping them – and their families – cope.