No parent wants their kid to stay in the hospital, let alone over two months, but that is exactly what Tiffany Cunningham's life has been since giving birth 11 weeks early.
Now, her family is giving back to the organization that has allowed her to stay with her newborn daughter.
This will be the 10th week Cunningham's daughter, Ella, has been at the Victoria Hospital in London. It's also the same amount of time her other daughter Aria, husband Wes and herself have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House across the street. It's been one of the most nerve-wracking times of the mother's life, but she said the Ronald McDonald House has made things a lot easier.
Her family has been so impressed with the facilities, they've decided to host a fundraiser this weekend through their business to repay the organization.
Cunningham's parents own Club Lentinas in Chatham where they will be holding Cocktails and Candy Canes this Saturday with proceeds going directly to the Ronald McDonald House Charity. Cunningham said it's the least they can do to show gratitude for all that the organization has done.
"We've been there this whole time and it is phenomenal," Cunningham said. "They set you up with a room that is like a hotel. They are all very nice, well equipped and have everything you need. I am so thankful to be here. Basically, they make it so you have nothing to worry about except your baby."
She added volunteers help around the house in many ways, like stocking the kitchen so guests can eat whenever they want. Cunningham said volunteers don't get paid and donate time out of the kindness of their own hearts.
Cunningham said the volunteers also do a great job connecting with families and their kids.
"We have our 21-month-old with us and she has done craft nights and they bring in service animals for the kids," Cunningham said. "On Halloween, they had gift bags for everyone and they let the kids go to all the office doors and trick or treat and also gave them costumes. They are stacked with things to do. It is phenomenal."
Ella is actually the second child Cunningham had 11 weeks early. She said the first was born in the USA and they weren't able to take advantage of the Ronald McDonald House across the border. While Cunningham said doctors aren't sure what caused it, they think it could have been placental abruption, which she said only happens to roughly one per cent of women.
"So I just got unlucky twice," Cunningham said.
However, Cunningham said things have been going so well with Ella, she expects her family to be home before Christmas.
According to the mother of two, tickets for this weekend's event at Club Lentinas are $50 of which $10 will go directly to the Ronald McDonald House Charity. She said appetizers, a five-course dinner and entertainment featuring local band Face 4 Radio are included. Cunningham added there will be a silent auction with proceeds going to the charity and cash donations will also be accepted at the event.
Doors to the event open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Cunningham said while 300 tickets are being sold there are only about 75 left, but added if they sellout the venue can be adjusted to make room for more people.
"A lot of businesses have actually made it their Christmas party," Cunningham said. "They purchased tickets for all their staff and made a night of it. There's a seating chart so you can sit with whoever you'd like and they buy a couple of tables, have a night out and it's for a great cause."