Ronald McDonald House director retires after 33 years - FOX 13 News

Ronald McDonald House director retires after 33 years

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Imagine 33 years of your life committed to one mission: the purpose of helping others. Donna Young lived that life, and is now retiring. Her story is "What's Right With Tampa Bay."

Young has walked hundreds of times into this Ronald McDonald House. The 60-year-old mother of three has been the on-site director for 33 years.

"When I first started they asked me to sign a two-year contract and I bartered 18 months because I really had no idea what a Ronald McDonald House was or what it should be," Donna said.

 

Donna became the manager of the first Ronald McDonald House built in Florida. The houses are home away from home for families whose children are being treated for various life threatening injuries and illnesses.

"From that one house in 1980 today we have four houses spanning two counties and we have a total of 80 bedrooms," Donna said.

Donna's Ronald McDonald House is conveniently located near All Children's Hospital.

"The first year we opened we served approximately 200 families and today we are serving more than 2,000 a year, so we have accomplished a lot," Donna said.

Allie Lyon is Donna's oldest daughter. She grew up in the Ronald McDonald House. Her playmates were kids receiving treatment in the hospital.

"The kids that I grew up with, they had loss their hair from the chemotherapy treatments to treat the cancer they battled," Allie said. "They pulled IV poles behind them on the playground they had broviac catheters, that was my normal."

The experience was life-changing for Allie.

"It taught me at an early age to be compassionate for those that were battling tough situations in their live," Allie said.

Donna's life has been intertwined with the Ronald McDonald House. She has made life long friends who she still keeps in touch with.

"One in particular had one our the first bone marrow transplants at All Children's," Donna said. "He went through West Point and last I heard he was on his way to Afghanistan to serve his country."

Donna and her husband raised their three children in this small two-story, three-bedroom home next door to Ronald McDonald house. Just steps away from families in need.

"Its been an richly rewarding experience for not just me, but my entire family," Donna said.

Donna says she will now send more time with her granddaughters and travel with her husband.

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