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New Calgary shuttle service brings boost for young hospital patients’ families

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WATCH ABOVE: There’s a new program in Calgary that’s bringing a big boost for families with kids in hospital. As Gil Tucker shows us, it’s helping to make a stressful situation a little easier to bear. – Dec 8, 2021

There’s a new program in Calgary that’s bringing a big boost for families with kids in hospital, helping to make a stressful situation a little easier to bear.

Many of those families are staying at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in the city’s northwest while their children receive treatment.

The RMH has begun offering a free shuttle service for families, taking them in a van to either the Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) or the Foothills Medical Centre.

Read more: Founder of Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities in Canada helps to change the world one family at a time

“Financially speaking, there’s a tremendous amount of hardship that the families have to deal with,” RMH CEO Jason Evanson said. “So by having us taking them to and from (the hospitals), they’re avoiding all kinds of expenses that they otherwise might have to bear, and it allows them to stay focused on their child at the hospital.”

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It’s a benefit to people like Jacob Marfo, whose 17-month-old son Ezra has spent almost half his life in hospital.

“He has leukemia,” Marfo said. “So he received some chemo, a stem cell transplant.”

Read more: Albertans hustle past fundraising goals for Ronald McDonald House Charities

Marfo has been staying at the RMH while away from his home in northern Alberta, as Ezra received treatment at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and at the ACH.

“I was so worried about paying for parking, and then even finding a parking spot close enough to the hospital,” Marfo said.

“The shuttle has been very beneficial to me and my family, taking that stress away, and now I’m able to focus on my son Ezra. He’s doing well — now he’s walking, so that’s good news.”

Volunteers are playing a big role in getting the shuttle service going.

“One of the things that amazes me is just the positive attitude that you encounter in some of these people who are really going through hardship, how they approach it with such grace,” volunteer driver Steve Donaldson said.

“I’m just feeling kind of blessed that I was able to become part of the project.”

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Read more: Ronald McDonald House brings holiday cheer to families far from home

The RMH is now running the shuttle two days a week, hoping to soon be able to expand that service to seven days a week.

“We need more drivers, and so if you’re interested in getting involved, please contact the Ronald McDonald House here in Calgary and we’d be happy to put you behind the wheel,” Evanson said.

Marfo hopes more families will soon be able to use the service.

“If someone wants to do something — anything — for Christmas, they can think about supporting the Ronald McDonald House,” Marfo said. “Because they are doing amazing work for families like mine.”

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