Ronald McDonald House Helps Local Family
by Scott A. Sumner
Dustin Barr started golfing at age 2. The seventeen-year liked to play hockey as well but chose golf because he was better at it. “ I came down to the Piper Heath golf course for a Nike golf camp one year and that is where I met my current coach, Dustin Wilson. We have now worked together for four years learning skills,” said Dustin Barr who plays to a 3 handicap.
Dustin was supposed to be at the Arnold Palmer Invitational for a 2-week golf camp with famed golf coach Sean Foley this past March, but instead had to go to Sick Kids Hospital. “ I had gone to the hospital in Thunder Bay when I had some pain in December. Later one of my eyes turned yellow and I was not keeping food down.They said I had to go to Toronto and I was diagnosed with undifferentiated sarcoma.,” said Dustin.
“ We never thought we would be going through this with a 17 year old boy who could hit the ball a mile and was very healthy. Dustin has just graduated from high school and was set to go to Core Golf in Florida similar to what local golfers Jeff Hunter and Evan Littlefield had done in the past. The goal was to get a US golf scholarship” said Jim Barr, father of Dustin.
“ We have now been down to Sick Kids 6 times so far, every three weeks for chemotherapy. At this time they don’t know whether we will continue on with chemotherapy or go straight to surgery. The chemotherapy has shrunk the tumour more than half and it now can be resectable. The chemotherapy takes lots out of Dustin who must stay in the hospital for 3 to 4 days just sitting there for the treatments for 7 or 8 hours in a row. We are not sure of the next steps. We have the best sarcoma specialists in the States and they are working with the Toronto doctors.” said Leanne Barr, mother of Dustin. “ The doctor is going to do everything he can to “make sure this kid gets back on the golf course” he tells us.”
“ I have been pretty positive as long as I am on the golf course, it is good. That is the one place where I find peace. It keeps me calm, keeps me happy.” said Dustin who graduated with honours from high school.
Dustin will next have to go through two big surgeries and then possibly have a hip replacement. Ronald McDonald House in Toronto has been the families home away from home. It is located a few blocks from Sick Kids Hospital. “ We are very happy to be at Ronald McDonald and staying right next to a room sponsered by George Badanai of Thunder Bay. We are taking it one step at a time and Dustin has been really positive and in a good frame of mind. We have so much support in Thunder Bay from people we don’t even now. We have a lot of people in our corner.” said Jim Barr.
“ We have 24 Ronald McDonald houses across Canada and currently serve 10,000 families per year. By the end of 2014 we will double to over 20,000 families. The medical advances today mean kids are healing and getting better more often. The healing rates are now at over 80% from previously at 20 to 30%.” said Kathy Loblaw, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald Houses. “ The treatments today take more time so we have had to grow and expand to meet the demand. The first house opened in Toronto in 1981 and was funded by McDonald’s. They are our founder and forever partner. It really grew just making sure families could be there with their sick child. Out of something so simple it has helped the family be with their child.”
The hospital in your city will refer the family to Ronald McDonald House and then they will come down. They are available 24/ 7. If the family can afford to contribute they pay $10 per night but no family is ever turned away.
“ It is beautiful bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, laundry facilities and a work out facility with lots of living space. There are kitchens where families can meet with other families going through similar challenges. There is a fully accredited school, which allows the children to keep up with their schoolwork. It is a beautiful healing oasis, a really lovely space which allows the families to be a nuclear family and connect with other families,” said Loblaw. “ Traveling far away from home means they don’t have to worry about the expenses. We try to be a warm hug that helps get your child better. We are so grateful to the RBC Canadian Open for their support this year and it will allow us to take our support to families to the next level. McDonald’s has been extraordinary as well.”
www.rmhc.ca is a great place to learn more about Ronald McDonald houses.