The Marisa Tufaro Foundation commemorated what would have been Marisa’s 14th birthday on July 30 by providing lunch and dinner to the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Central Jersey.
The house is located on 145 Somerset Street, across from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
In addition, The Marisa Tufaro Foundation helped replenish the Ronald McDonald House of Central Jersey with items it needs. The Marisa Tufaro Foundation also provided gift cards to residents.
No funds from The Marisa Tufaro Foundation were used for the donated meals, items and gift cards as Marisa’s parents made the provisions on behalf of the foundation.
Anyone interested in following their lead and providing one future meal (a lunch or dinner) for residents of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Jersey on behalf of The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, please email the foundation at email@example.com, and one of our volunteers will help facilitate your generous donation.
Following is a blog post from Cyndi which illustrates why The Marisa Tufaro Foundation is supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Central Jersey.
Fourteen years ago this month Marisa was born.
It was a scheduled delivery, and luckily, Marisa’s congenital heart defect was detected in utero, which meant the cardiac team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) was waiting for her. I can still remember the nurses calling the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), where I was scheduled for an induced labor, to let me know they were waiting for our baby’s arrival and to ask me the status of the delivery.
Our daughter was born at 11:03 pm on July 30th, in time for the obstetrician to get home to see David Letterman (he actually said that!). Greg and I couldn’t decide on a name, and it just so happened that the fellow – her name was actually Dr. Marisa Rose – on call that night had one of the top two names on our list. And so, it was decided … Marisa Rose Tufaro … was meant to be.
As I went one way to the adult side of HUP to recover and Marisa went next door to CHOP, Greg was left to visiting each of us at the neighboring hospitals. The weary and worried new father found a chair for a bed. Marisa was well cared for by the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurses on the ninth floor at CHOP, which now has an amazing delivery unit for families of babies born with heart defects.
In only a short 48 hours of life, Marisa, who was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, meaning she essentially had just one ventricle, underwent the first of six open-heart surgeries to repair her defective heart. The surgeon, Dr. William Gaynor, thanked me for giving him a strong and solid eight-pound baby to perform the complicated surgery on her walnut-sized heart. Greg carried Marisa to the surgery alone – as I was recovering from complications due to the delivery – passing her into the hands of a seasoned anesthesiologist.
Marisa had a successful first surgery, and by that point, I was released from the hospital, located more than an hour and a half from home. The hospital provides a limited number of sleep rooms for parents, but they are usually reserved for the first night after a surgery when it is too risky for a family to be even steps away from their child in critical condition. We were left to find a place to “live” while Marisa recovered in one of the infant pods in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, which houses up to six babies. We did not want at all to leave, but were not permitted to sleep by her bedside.
Greg was introduced to the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, the first of its kind in the world, by a social worker at the hospital. A beautifully structured mansion, expanded to house up to 45 families a night, the house is a short distance from the hospital. As I sat bedside with Marisa, Greg met the house manager who provided him with a tour, sheets, towels, toiletries, a room with a comfortable bed and access to a bathroom, all for a donation of a mere $15 a night. Greg’s relief and exhaustion turned into eternal gratitude as he was greeted with open arms.
We resided at the Ronald McDonald House for the next month and were astounded by the generosity of the staff, volunteers and donors. Donated meals kept us going. The house provided shuttle service to CHOP, weekly gift packages of toiletries and, most importantly, we had a place to sleep close to the hospital. The shared kitchen would turn into a buffet-style dinner with home-cooked meals or donated meals from groups volunteering their time to help a family in need. I certainly couldn’t even think about how I was going to get my next meal as I was trying to help Marisa recover. This loving and generous act by strangers took away some of the stress and expense that a family with a hospitalized child faces.
As a result of that experience, Greg and I organized our first “Marisa’s Mission” on behalf of The Marisa Tufaro Foundation. For the love and care that was provided to us during such a crucial time in our lives, we provided lunch and dinner to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Central New Jersey on July 30th. We also helped replenish the house with supplies it needed and provided gift cards to residents.
We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate our daughter’s life than by providing a meal to other families in similar circumstances on Marisa’s birthday. And you can be sure there will be cheesecake for dessert, Marisa’s favorite!
Anyone interested in providing a future meal for residents of the Ronald McDonald House of Central New Jersey on behalf of The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, please email the foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.