San Diego native Debbie Day was born with multiple heart defects. Doctors told her parents she required open-heart surgery as soon as she grew stronger.
Her parents' lives came to a halt when they received the news. It was the early '60s, and such surgeries on infants were still experimental. All they wanted was to ensure their tiny daughter would be OK. "Back then, there wasn't a support network for moms and dads whose children were having surgery," says Debbie. "Wouldn't it be great if my parents could have had the Ronald McDonald House?"
Debbie says she's alive today because of the successful heart procedure doctors performed when she was only six months old. She's grateful to now be a happy, healthy mother with three children and five grandchildren.
Debbie with grandchildren Ethan, Emma, Isaiah and Eli.
She understands how much other parents need help staying strong for infants with life-threatening conditions. "A mother and father need lots of support to handle that intense stress. They have to be strong to help their child recover."
"The thing is anybody, and at any point in their lives, could find themselves needing the San Diego Ronald McDonald House."
Today, Debbie helps organizations that support those mothers and fathers. That’s why she began volunteering at the House six years ago, across the street from the very hospital that saved her life. She drives families to local stores so that they can shop for personal items. And she brings kids attending our on-site TK-12 school to field trips at parks and museums.
Debbie with daughter Melinda at 2019 Many Hearts Legacy Society reception, in the Padres Owner’s Suite at Petco Park.
Debbie received a letter one day asking if she'd consider naming San Diego's Ronald McDonald House in her estate. After pondering the idea, she decided, "I can't give a lot, but I can still give a little." She wanted to do her part to ensure new families can always find a place to gather strength for their sick child. Naming the House in her personal trust would make that possible. So last year, Debbie became a Charter Member of the Many Hearts Legacy Society.
"The thing is anybody, and at any point in their lives, could find themselves needing the San Diego Ronald McDonald House." For Debbie, putting the Ronald McDonald House in her estate was a gift to her San Diego community.
What You Can Do
Please consider joining the Many Hearts Legacy Society. You can help ensure new families will find a network of support that helps them get through their child's hospitalization.
Take the Next Steps
- Consult your advisors.
- Notify us you're including the House in your estate plan: