Families Supporting Other Families on Valentine’s Day



Rei, mother to one of our medically complex patients, receives a hug from one of the volunteers.

Our medically complex patients and their families have very different stories. These families are bonded by the challenges they share with obtaining and maintaining the care and services their loved ones desperately require.

Their network is strong—and provides a constant reminder that when you invest in your community, the return can be profound.

“We always have a really good laugh when we’re together,” Rei says. Rei is the mother to one of our medically complex, ventilator-dependent patients.

This Valentine’s Day, a group of our patients’ families hosted a second annual Valentine’s Day dinner at the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) at The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. This annual event helps bring joy to families who may be experiencing some of their most difficult days.

Starting with an Idea


Rei and Stephanie, the brains behind this annual Valentine’s Day event.

Last year on Valentine’s Day, Stephanie was travelling to Chicago for her son’s planned hospitalization. The Ronald McDonald House, where she was staying, hadn’t yet secured a sponsor for dinner. Stephanie called Rei, and started brainstorming ideas.

The two friends hosted a special Valentine’s Day dinner. It was such a success that they decided to do it again this year.

“This dinner was created to show our support to other parents, and really, who doesn’t love a good party?” Rei continues, “This is truly something that Stephanie and I do from the bottom of our hearts.”

Second Annual Valentine’s Day Dinner

For the dinner this year, Stephanie and Rei continued with the Italian bistro theme, but had a few surprises up their sleeves. Karaoke was added, as well as new volunteers, like their friend Allison, who travelled all the way from Windsor, Ontario.


Allison travelled all the way from Windsor, Ontario, to volunteer.

“How often do we [moms with medically complex kids] get to hang out?” Allison continues, “This is the first time I’m meeting some of these women—and we’ve been friends for almost 10 years.”

This unforgettable dinner for the 13 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House was possible due to a group of 20 volunteers and support from other medically complex patients and families who couldn’t be there.

Donations and Support

In addition to support and donations from family and friends, Stephanie and Rei also reached out to local vendors to ask for donations ranging from decorations and gift bags to music and a photo booth:

Frost Chicago donated the lighting, decorations, and karaoke equipment.

HMR Designs donated the flowers.


The Ronald McDonald House was dressed head-to-toe with Valentine’s Day decorations.

Spizzico Pizza donated the food, including two types of pasta, lemon chicken, salad and fresh bread.

The families who volunteered are looking forward to participating next year. Their new “normal” may not be what they wanted or planned for, but they are confident in their future because of the love and support they share with each otherand the new families they will meet.


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