Rosario Arias comes from a very large family. She is one of 13 children and has about 100 relatives on her mother’s side and about another 100 on her father’s side. At the young age of 66, she and her husband Gustavo have 20 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Her oldest great-grandchild, Christopher, lives with Rosario and Gustavo in Tehachapi. When Christopher was born almost 6 years ago, Rosario and Gustavo felt incredibly blessed with this happy, healthy, vibrant, smart, funny, handsome child.
When Christopher was 5 ½, Rosario noticed that he got more tired than usual when playing soccer. Rosario took him to the local doctor who said there was nothing wrong with Christopher. A week later, he started to limp. She took him to the doctor and was again told that nothing was wrong. But Rosario knew something was wrong, so she drove three hours to see a specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who confirmed her worst nightmare – Christopher has leukemia. The doctors said that Christopher will be in treatment for the next 3-4 years – and has an 85% survival rate. Every week or two, they all drive the three hours and stay at the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House.
The first time Christopher arrived at the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House, he was scared and depressed. He had stopped smiling and was confused with all the medical appointments. As soon as Christopher walked into the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House, he smiled. It was the first time in months that he started to laugh again, and began behaving like an average kid. Christopher loves being at the House. He loves taking yoga classes and playing in the game room with the other kids. He loves when volunteer groups come to cook a meal for the families – and he thinks it’s just one big party. Staying at the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House has taken Christopher’s mind off his illness. And although he doesn’t look forward to returning to the hospital for his chemo treatment, he always looks forward to coming back to the House, his "home away from home."
“Although I may come from a very big family, the L A House has become my family," shared Rosario. "Here at the House, we support each other. There is an acceptance and an understanding that some of my family just can’t understand. At the end of a tough day, when I come back to the House after spending hours at the hospital with Christopher, I realize that my problem is not as bad as many others staying at the House.”
For information on how you can help the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House provide families of critically ill children with lodging and support programs, please call us at 323-644-3000.