The following blog post was written by Southwest LUV Classic and Drive & Play sponsors, David and Diane Gutierrez Luther from Padrino Foods.
Our Journey began on June 17, 1994.
Natalie diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia (AML) at 7 monthsNatalie diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia (AML) at 7 monthsAs parents, your child’s best interest is always top-of-mind, especially when you are faced with the unknown. On June 17, 1994, our family doctor rushed us to Children's Hospital in Dallas with our then, seven-month-old daughter, Natalie. Our visits were quite frequent but this particular time Natalie’s health took a turn. Natalie was diagnosed with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia and given a three percent chance of survival. Diane and I were unsure what the next step would be but we were informed that the type of Leukemia Natalie had required a specialized transplant called a “half match” or better known as a bone marrow transplant with a perfect match donor.
Natalie in a hospital roomNatalie in a hospital roomAfter receiving the news, we learned that a procedure like this needed to be performed at a specialized hospital in South Carolina. As a result, we uprooted and relocated our entire family to South Carolina where we stayed at a Ronald McDonald (RMD) House from October 30, 1994, to January 17, 1995. It was very hard for our family, especially with having no health insurance at the time, and on our other children, Nicole and DJ, who also had to pick up and relocate with us in support of Natalie’s treatment.
A blessing of hope, love, and support from the Ronald McDonald House.
The Ronald McDonald House in South CarolinaThe Ronald McDonald House in South CarolinaWhen we arrived at the Ronald McDonald House in South Carolina, we were treated like family each and every day we were there. While Diane and I were focusing on Natalie and trying to cope during her rigorous chemo treatments, the Ronald McDonald House staff were very compassionate towards our children. They were engaged with them and even allowed them to participate in fun activities. This display of compassion towards Nicole and DJ allowed Diane and me time to take care of Natalie—it left a lasting impression on both of us.
Seven-year-old NatalieSeven-year-old NatalieIn addition to the outreach of support from various sponsors, friends, and family, it was our experience at the Ronald McDonald House that made all the difference. This was a trying time for our family and having support, and even a warm meal at the end of the day was greatly appreciated. Ronald McDonald House is not just about children with serious illnesses, it’s about families in need who have nowhere to go or stay while their child receives treatment. It’s not just a place to stay, its support—they literally do everything in their power to support you and your family. In the end, they become a part of your family.
25 years old and better than ever.
Natalie at 25Natalie at 25Natalie is now 25 years old. We are so blessed to report that she received a clean bill of health two years after her treatment in 1994. She is stronger than ever and we are so proud of her.
What goes around comes around.
Over the last decade, Diane and I, on behalf of our company Padrino Foods, have donated to veteran associations, various hospitals, and other local community programs. However, the Ronald McDonald House had always been near and dear to our hearts. It’s been our desired to continue staying involved.
Two years ago, we learned about the Southwest LUV Classic & Party and were thrilled to hear that Ronald McDonald House Charities is often a recipient of the funds raised from the golf tournament. We jumped at the opportunity to sponsor and participate in the LUV Classic. This year we plan to participate again to showcase our support and gratitude for the organizations that have made an impact on our family.