Watch CBS News

Ronald McDonald House giving 2 families far from home a sense of family

How Ronald McDonald House is providing sense of home for these 2 families
How Ronald McDonald House is providing sense of home for these 2 families 03:34

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- It's only been two months since 4-year-old Zohe has had this wheelchair, but by the way that she zips around the Ronald McDonald House in Camden, you can't tell the challenges she's faced in her short life.

"She has a condition called fibular hemimelia," Jose Conde, Zohe's father, said. "The left leg is shorter than the right one."

When Zohe was born in 2019, her doctors in Puerto Rico said she was too small for surgery.


"So the doctor told us that we have to wait for her to grow into her bones," Conde said. "So we wait for that. Three years later, we decided to do the surgery. Come all the way here."

She's had the first of her surgeries at Shriner's Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and now has a fixator in her leg as she awaits the next procedure.

"She can't walk because she has the fixator on," Conde said, "so it's hard for her because she used to run and everything. And now she's in a wheelchair, and it's hard for her because she has a lot of energy."

For Conde, Zohe and her mom Michelle, being in the Delaware Valley means help for Zohe, but months spent away from her siblings and family and their life back home.

This is why they are grateful for the sense of home they have created here with others at the Ronald McDonald House, including two-year-old Amanda.

"Amanda is not too easy to play with other kids," Jesenia Lugo, Amanda's mother, said, "but she plays a lot with Zohe."


Amanda and her mom are also from Puerto Rico.

Amanda has been battling an aggressive form of leukemia.

"It was very hard because she was dying and had six months," Lugo said. "She had the bone marrow transplant this past December, but she have another relapse in March."

Her mom Lugo says since she was an infant, Amanda has been in and out of hospitals and has also undergone chemotherapy and T-cell treatments.

Now, she's under the care of the team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she's tested weekly.

Right now, she is clear of cancer but not yet in remission.

But with the support of the friends they've made and the team at the Ronald McDonald House, they are able to brave the challenges. Together.

Ronald McDonald House Charities Telethon

Thursday is CBS Philadelphia's 14th annual telethon to raise money to help the Ronald McDonald Houses in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware. The telethon begins at 6 a.m. and runs until 8 p.m. on CBS News Philadelphia.

Here's how you can donate.

Text: The word "FAMILY" to 20222 to make a $25 donation (message and data rates may apply)


Venmo: @RMHCPhillyRegion

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.