Michelle and Braxton Wacholtz

Michelle and Braxton Wacholtz

Why McHappy Day matters in Smithers

One year ago, Michelle Wacholtz’s son Braxton became seriously ill, so much so that he had to go to the B.C. Children’s Hospital immediately.

She was fortunate that they were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, Wacholtz said, just seven blocks away from the hospital where her son was receiving much needed treatment.

“I think it’s very important for parents to be with their kids during this difficult time,” she said.

And they were very supportive, she said, providing food and support for the families.

“When you’re spending all day at the clinic, you don’t really think ‘I need to have supper at six o’clock’,” Wacholtz said. “It’s our children that are on our minds, so they take care of everyone else.”

And having that support was very important for Braxton. Now 11, he says that having his mother down there made things less stressful for him.

“It was really fun to have her, she has a sense of humour,” Braxton said.

Just passing their one-year anniversary from the ordeal, Michelle and Braxton found themselves at the Smithers McDonalds last Wednesday, helping them raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

On May 11, McDonalds across the country donated $1 from the sale of every coffee, every Happy Meal and every Big Mac sandwich towards the charity that has helped so many, including Michelle and Braxton.

Helium balloons, Ronald Boots, and McDonalds merchandise was also sold to raise funds, and donations were being accepted as well. Throughout the day McDonalds customers may have also been served by a councillor, the fire chief, a member of the RCMP or any of the other volunteers as they came down to share in the fun to raise some funds.

This year Smithers was successful in beating last year’s total, owner and operator Shane Doodson said. They sold 273 Big Macs, 105 Happy Meals, and 693 coffees that,  when added with overall fundraising throughout the store added up to $3,096, $800 more than last year. Those funds that will be instrumental in building a new Ronald McDonald House right on the B.C. Children’s Hospital grounds.

“We’ll be going from the 16 rooms that we have right now to 60 rooms,” Doodson said.

And having Michelle and Braxton come on down and celebrate with them was just amazing, truly inspirational and a great example of how such a small thing — buying a coffee, Big Mac, or Happy Meal — can make a huge difference to a family, maybe even someone you know.

Having those extra rooms available was welcome news for Wacholtz, who was even more pleased to hear the announcement from Premier Christy Clark that the provincial government would provide half the funding — a cool $13.75 million.

“Sick kids are everywhere, unfortunately,” she said. “We don’t like to have that reality, but to have those benefits down in Vancouver close the the Ronald McDonald House close to the hospital is something we can all take advantage of.”