MADISON (WKOW) -- The Ronald McDonald Family Room at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital is celebrating a decade of being a refuge for families with hospitalized children.
That's the position Mike and Mandy Fujihira were in during the summer of 2017. Their son, Maverik, was born at 26 weeks and 4 days. He weighed a little more than two and a half pounds, and he was about 15 inches long.
"80 days total was what it ended up being that he was in the NICU," Mike said.
At first, the Fujihiras drove back and forth between the hospital and their Sun Prairie home. However, that commute sometimes caused them to miss moments with Maverik.
"There was times where you kind of got a one-time shot to hold him for the day," Mike said. "A couple of times before we stayed here, traffic was bad or something happened, and you literally get here at 7:35 and 7:30 was your chance to see him in order to hold him for the day."
About a week into Maverik's NICU stay, Mike and Mandy started staying in the Ronald McDonald Family Room. Instead of being a 35 minute drive away from their newborn son, they were only one floor away.
"It just made life so much easier being able to stay for longer feedings with him or longer with him," Mandy said.
Now, the family is several years removed from their stay in the Family Room, but they say the facility continues to mean so much to them.
"The support and just how safe you feel here because of everything that everybody poured into Mandy during her stay and Maverik during his stay, it just means a lot," Mike said. "I can only imagine how many others in the area that this room has impacted their lives and made a difference for them."
The Fujihiras say they try to support the Family Room whenever they can through things like Amazon wish lists and collecting soda can tabs. Mike said it's their way of giving back and making sure the resource they leaned on so heavily at the start of Maverik's life endures and is able to be a safe haven for other families in the future.