Ronald McDonald House celebrates 30 years

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Julie and Abby Leach

By Allison Eatough

"This is the house that love built."

It's a phrase seen and heard throughout the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. It's painted on a wall above the play room, where sick children and their siblings come to have fun during breaks from hospital treatments.

It's sculpted into artwork near the piano, where students from the Peabody Institute perform live music – an often welcome distraction – for house guests.

And it's spoken daily by staff members and volunteers, as new families arrive in need of rest, food and comfort.
"Once a family checks in, this becomes their home away from home," says Sandy Pagnotti, executive director.

Since 1982, the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House has become a second home for more than 35,000 seriously ill children and their families. Guests come from as near as Baltimore County and as far away as Ecuador, Iraq and Malaysia, all staying at the house to be near their children as they receive medical care at nearby hospitals.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the house. Read on for the stories of two local families who have lived there and witnessed firsthand how a traumatic family situation can become a little easier through the support of strangers.

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