'I don't know if we'd have our sanity': How one local charity helped this Windsor family

Wes Ladouceur with his daughters Rielle and Adelynne ahead of McHappy Day in Windsor, Ont. on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (Michelle Maluske/CTV Windsor)

The Ladouceurs relied on Ronald McDonald House Charities in three cities, after their twin girls were born 12 weeks premature.

Rielle and Adelynne Ladouceur spent the first 89 days of their lives in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Windsor Regional Hospital.

While there, their parents Wes and Michelle, used the ‘House Within a Hospital’ to take care of themselves.

“It's important,” Wes Ladouceur said. “All your focus every day is your kids but you don't realize how much you need to just take care of yourself, whether it's a half an hour, an hour or you know a good night's sleep.”

Adelynne needed extra care in London and Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital for “heart issues,” according to Ladouceur. While there, the family used RMHC houses near both hospitals.

“(It) take(s) you out of the medical side of all the beeping and all the wires attached to your kids,” said Ladouceur. “It allows you to you know, just relax, refresh, shower, eat, take a coffee and just get your mind off things for a little bit.”

Windsor’s House Within a Hospital has been open for six years now.

“Since then we’ve had 675 families live with us, keeping them close to their sick child(ren),” said Christine Richer, senior manager of RMH Windsor.

“We are forever grateful for RMH for keeping us together when it mattered most,” Michelle Ladouceur said in an email to CTV News.

“Living away from home and your friends and family, being surrounded by medical equipment all day is isolating. RMH Windsor gave us a comfortable and safe space for friends and family (to) visit to have a cup of coffee with us while still being seconds away from our babies in the NICU.”

The Ladouceurs are sharing their story in the lead-up to McHappy Day slated for Wednesday, May 11.

McDonald’s Restaurants across Windsor Essex will be donating 10 per cent of the proceeds off of food and beverage sales. The stores will also be selling McHappy Day “swag” like socks and bracelets to support the charity.

In 2022, McHappy Day will also support In Honour Of The Ones We Love.

The event was cancelled in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, with the 2021 event held in September, instead of the traditional May date.