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The Ronald McDonald Family Room

When You Need Help The Most

Published online: Mar 11, 2024 Articles Katie Burke
Viewed 1060 time(s)

Cole and Kiera Jenkins were just like every other family in Shelley. They picked the small town to raise their two boys in because it’s a good community with good people. When their son, Trace, began experiencing extreme abdominal pain, they were concerned as this was completely out of the ordinary. What began as a normal day spiraled into a nightmare as they rushed Trace to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where a diagnosis of appendicitis quickly turned critical. 

The family, already grappling with the fear of the unknown, was devastated when the doctors revealed that Trace's appendix had ruptured in the short time between diagnosis and being wheeled to the surgical room.

The severity of Trace's condition meant an extended 12-day stay at the hospital. Kiera and Cole, already stricken with worry about their son, found themselves facing a situation where they may have to leave Trace for periods as they commuted back and forth to their house. It was during this tumultuous time that they were introduced to the Ronald McDonald Family Room, a name they had briefly heard but never fully understood until now.

“Our nurse was telling us about Ronald McDonald,” says Kiera. “We didn't know anything about it about at first.”

Walking into the Ronald McDonald Family Room, the family was embraced by an atmosphere that was welcoming and reassuring. The warm nature of the space became something Trace enjoyed too. After surgery, Trace was experiencing pain and resisted moving, but his doctor expressed how crucial mobility was for his recovery. It was the mention of Ronald McDonald Family Room that sparked some excitement for Trace. 

“He was so excited about the space that he just lit up,” sayd Kiera.  “We couldn't even check in without him saying ‘move my wheelchair to that room.’ It gave him something to look forward to. It was also a great place to meet family members who wanted to visit so we didn’t have to all cram into a tiny hospital room.”

One of the most heartwarming memories of their stay was when Trace was cleared to eat and drink. His love for chocolate milk and the Ronald McDonald Family Room motivated him to want to walk to the Family Room every day. Recognizing this simple joy, the staff went above and beyond, ensuring a steady supply was always in the fridge. When Trace was willing to walk the halls of EIRMC, he was greeted with his chocolate milk prize at the Family Room. This gesture, small in the grand scheme but monumental in its impact, symbolized the profound kindness that the Jenkins family experienced during their stay. 

For Trace, knowing he was walking to get a special treat, became a source of strength and aided in his recovery.

As the days passed, Trace's condition improved, a testament to the resilience of his young body and the indomitable spirit of his entire family. Kiera and Cole witnessed their son regain his health, not just through medical intervention but by the love and support of a community that showed they care.

Reflecting on their journey, the family couldn't help but express profound gratitude for the Ronald McDonald Family Room. 

“We were so grateful they fed us, which helped financially, and others didn’t have to worry about bringing us food all the time,” says Kiera. “We want to share our story because something like this could happen to anyone, and we want people in our community to know there is a place you can get help. To anyone who has ever donated to Ronald McDonald, you don’t the type of impact you’ve had on the families who need it.”

For Kiera, Cole, and Trace, the experience was a poignant reminder of the difference kindness can make in the darkest of times. From March 11-13, 2024, the Ronald McDonald Family Room team has a goal to raise $70,000 to help families like the Jenkins. You can donate by visiting


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