Owen Gumm’s Family

Something felt off to Kristine Gumm when she headed to the hospital in Richmond, Illinois in February for a standard check-up when she was 31 weeks pregnant. After a few hours of observation, her doctors determined that all was well and, in fact, everything was so ordinary that it was only during a final exam before discharging her that they realized Kristine was in the early stages of labor.

That’s when things changed. Instead of returning home, Kristine was transferred via ambulance to Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, nearly an hour and a half from home, so she could be close to the highly rated NICU at the hospital. Chris, her firefighter and paramedic husband, followed the ambulance in the couple’s car.

Kristine spent the next 13 days in the hospital while doctors worked to prolong her pregnancy. That was when Chris first learned about the Ronald McDonald House across the street. “I was able to use the day-pass program to get out of the hospital for a little while and get some food that wasn’t hospital food,” Chris says. “I had no idea it was there, but I was so grateful to find out about it.”

Baby Owen made his debut on February 13 to overjoyed parents. Kristine was discharged two days later, but because Owen was born at only 33 weeks, his stay in the NICU lasted a bit longer.

To stay close to Owen, Chris and Kristine moved into the Ronald McDonald House, where they stayed for more than a month.

“I had no concept of what to expect, but it’s really an amazing thing,” Chris said. “We are extremely grateful to have been able to stay.”

They were especially touched by the warm meals that volunteers cooked for families daily, and how much it meant to know that there would always be delicious and nutritious food waiting for them at the House. The meals meant so much that when Kristine and Chris learned that no meal group was scheduled to cook dinner on the last night of their stay due to the emerging COVID-19 threat, they decided to pitch in themselves.

“I’m used to cooking for a crowd at the firehouse,” says Chris. “It wasn’t hard to pull together, and we were glad to be able to give something back.” The next day, Owen was discharged from the hospital and the family headed home together.

Today, Chris reports that the whole family is doing well and grateful to be together and at home. They have already begun collecting pop tabs and are planning their return to the House to cook for more families like them in the future. We can’t wait to see them back and to check on in little Owen!

Watch the Gumms tell their story.

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