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Paper Hearts Help Local Families at Ronald McDonald House

This year, the campaign is raising money for both Ronald McDonald House locations.
Leeam and Teresa Barry / Photo Credit: Barry Family
Leeam and Teresa Barry / Photo Credit: Barry Family

Celebrating its 21styear in the Ozarks, the Share a Heart campaign is kicking off another paper heart season. This year, the campaign is raising money for both Ronald McDonald House locations.  KSMU’s Shannon Bowers spoke with a mother from Bolivar about her experience at one of the facilities during a stressful time last year.

“Having to travel back and forth and having kids was hard enough.”

That’s Teresa Barry. A year ago today, this single mother of six was extremely worried when she had her son, Leeam, nine weeks early; he only weighed 3.8 pounds.

“He was born so, so little,” said Barry.

During the five weeks Leeam was in the hospital, Teresa turned to the Ronald McDonald House for food, a place to nap, and simple, comforting conversation.

“The families that I met there helped give me hope and extra support that I needed to know that Leeam is going to be okay… Words can’t describe that, where you get to have that break from the busyness of the hospital and seeing your sick child in there,” said Barry.

The Share a Heart campaign is one of the main fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House charity. Last year, it raised over $116,000 for things like nightly dinners, emergency expenses, and laundry and transportation costs for guests staying there.

The signed paper hearts cost $1, $5, or $20, and they'll be displayed on the walls and windows of more than 60 local McDonald’s restaurants.  All money goes to the Ronald McDonald Houses near Cox South Hospital and Mercy Children’s Hospital.

“My stay there may have been short but the people there and the families there will be in my heart forever,” said Barry.

This week, Teresa Barry and her family are celebrating a very healthy Leeam's 1stbirthday.

For KSMU News I’m Shannon Bowers.