On July 19th a new charitable portion of Geeks With Wives called Geeks 4 Kourageous Kids participated in it’s first event with The Orange County Ronald McDonald House. We had the opportunity to help this amazing organization celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its Orange County Location. It was a cool summer morning with the smell of pancakes and sausage in the air when we arrived, but before we get to that I want to tell you what G4KK is, where it came from and how we got to this moment.
If there is one thing that can break down all of my walls and touch places in my heart that not even I knew existed, it would be children. Sure they can get on my nerves and make me wish for one of those Calgon moments, but that is all in the course of being a parent. I cannot imagine my life not having and not being able to wake up to my little girls every morning. For a long time I was thinking of ways that we could use our involvement in the geek community to help children in any small way. Then I had a friend (Zach Luna) post about a hospital visit he made to some sick kids dressed as Spider-Man, the pictures spoke volumes to me. If somehow we could bring smiles and assistance to children using our involvement with the Cosplaying community then we absolutely needed to try.
I approached my wife Jaime Osuna with a very basic idea, find a hospital and see if they would let us bring in some superheroes to brighten the day of some children. Maybe take a few pictures, color with them, and just give them a little escape from the hardships they are facing on a daily basis. She loved the idea, but then said to me, “this is something I would like to put together.” Being parents of 3 children ourselves this was something very important for us to make happen. After pitching the idea to the GWW brass and receiving immediate and amazing support, Jaime began making phone calls and sending emails to local hospitals. During that time I emailed a few amazing cosplayers that I hoped would help us make this happen. Initially Jaime hit a bit of a brick wall with the hospitals, the amount of hoops you have to jump through to visit children in the hospital is pretty plentiful. Still determined she contacted Katie Russel at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House, and pitched them some of our ideas for involvement.
Shortly there after Katie invited us in for a meeting to tour the house and discuss ways that our fledgling initiative could partner with RMH. We had a general overall idea of what RMH did, but no idea the lengths to which this wonderful organization goes to for sick children and their families. They stress the importance on a families staying together and not being isolated from the world while they are going through such a difficult time. We met in front of a fireplace that had seats and couches for residents to socialize, a little playroom off to side filled with donated toys and games. A huge, impeccably clean kitchen for the residents and volunteers to cook meals during their stay. There was even a media room with a couple of computers and a television. During our meeting we talked about Superheroes at fundraisers, Christmas parties, groups possibly being formed with other houses in other cities. We all agreed that the upcoming 25th Anniversary breakfast would be a great event for us to test the waters. Below is a description of the goal of OCRMH.
The idea behind the Orange County Ronald McDonald House is simple: provide a comfortable and affordable “home away from home” for families shouldering the burdens associated with a child who is being treated at a nearby hospital.
“Some children must travel great distances to get the medical attention they need. Hospital treatments may last a day, a month or more than a year. For the families of these children, affordable accommodations are few and far between. Often, they are limited to costly hotels or unforgiving hospital chairs.
The Orange County Ronald McDonald House offers a comfortable, supportive and affordable alternative for these families. It’s a temporary home near their child’s hospital where they can sleep, eat, relax and find encouragement from others. It is much more than just a nice place to stay. It helps to anchor families in very trying times. It can reduce stress by providing a venue where people can talk things out with others who are wrestling with the same issues.
The actual cost for one family per night is approximately $150. However, families are asked to pay only $10 per day. If that isn’t possible, their stay is free. For this reason, the Orange County Ronald McDonald House seeks the support of individuals, foundations, corporations and service groups.
It takes more than windows and walls, kitchens and bathrooms to make a House a home. Dedicated volunteers help us keep our doors open around the clock, 365 days a year. This allows our guest families to focus on one thing—the health of their child.
The Orange County Ronald McDonald House keeps families together when it counts the most. It helps relieve the stress of finding and affording someplace to stay. And, it helps families remain physically and emotionally strong when they need it most. It is The House That Love Built® and filled with hope.”
After learning all of this, we knew that this was a group we wanted to get involved with. The opportunity to help children in need had us all in, but the chance to help their parents and siblings as well only made us more determined to make this happen. Now we just needed some amazing cosplayers, going back to my emails and FB messages I was nearly brought to tears by the universal support from each and every one of them that we had contacted. Many of them thanking us for the chance to be involved in the group Jaime and I were starting. The character and hearts of the initial group we have put together was beyond anything I could ever have imagined.
Fast Forward to a couple of months later and our first event is under our belts, we met for pancakes and a “family reuinion” of 25 years of past and present residents of the OCRMH. Children were beside themselves to hang out with Spider-Man and Wolverine, even our Super Villains (Poison Ivy and Black Cat) were heroes that day. I was walking next to Ashlynne Dae (Merida from Brave) towards the end of the event and a young girl she had been talking to through most of the morning ran up to her and said “Merida, Merida my parents said we don’t have to leave yet so I can spend some more time with you”. That one statement made any and all the time and effort worth it, that for one morning that young lady got to hang out with one of her favorite characters that had come to life. I asked Ashlynne later about Merida’s accent, she stayed in character all day even when speaking with me and she told me “I didn’t want to ruin the magic for the kids”. For the Cosplayers who participated I can never do justice when speaking of their hearts and character, Lonstermash (Wolverine), Ashlynne Dae (Merida), Vertvixen (Black Cat), That Vegan Cosplayer (Poison Ivy), and Zach Luna (Spiderman).
Our hope at Geeks With Wives is that the model and partnerships we are creating here in Orange County, CA will be the start of other G4KK groups being put together by our contributors and cosplayers all across the country. If you have any questions about the program you can contact Jaime Osuna at [email protected] or stay up to date with the group on FB https://www.facebook.com/Geeks4KourageousKids or onTwitter: @jaimelosuna