Annual Hearts Campaign Underway At McDonald's

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The following is the story of Dan and Dusttie Beck of Litchfield and the support they received from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois following the birth of their son, Evan, in early 2007.

Dan and Dusttie Beck of Litchfield learned they were pregnant with their first child just after New Year's 2007 and, like most new parents, were both scared and excited. Unfortunately for the expectant parents, the road that lay ahead was filled with several hardships that challenged them in every way.

During their first doctor's visit for the pregnancy, Dusttie learned that she had a tumor on one of her ovaries that needed to be removed during the pregnancy. The surgery took place right about the thirteenth week and the tumor was removed without any complications.

Not much later, at about the six month mark, Dusttie was riding in her car when another driver slammed into her car with her inside. Dusttie and the baby were both fine after the wreck despite the car being totalled.

The biggest challenge for the Becks came during the 38th week when their doctor, who was concerned with the baby's size, decided to have Dusttie induced to help insure a safe delivery.

"After a long day with no progress, the doctor decided a caesarean would be needed," said Dusttie. "Just under 50 minutes later, our first child, Evan Lucas Beck, was born, screaming in displeasure for being taken from his happy little mobile home."

The screaming did not last long as, according to Dusttie, Evan was laboring to breathe while the doctors and nurses cleaned him and gave him to his parents. He was soon placed under a small oxygen hood in the hopes that the small hole in his lungs would repair itself.

Unfortunately, that wish did not come true and within 24 hours of his birth, Evan was transported to another hospital and put in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). He was put on a ventilator and had a chest tube inserted to release the air that was building up in his abdominal cavity putting pressure on his heart.

The Becks said they hated being away from their new son, unable to comfort him or even to know what was going on with his care.

"Since I had the caesarean, I was unable to drive and we lived almost an hour away from the hospital," said Dusttie. "I needed to be closer."

That is when the Becks were introduced to the Ronald McDonald House.

With a location just across the street from the hospital and room to spare, Dusttie moved into the Ronald McDonald House, and admits it was the best thing for her and the family. Up until that time, Dan had been shuffling between the two hospitals and home trying to keep everything in order.

Now, when either Dan or another family member was unavailable, hospital security would help transport Dusttie to the hospital to see Evan until she was strong enough to walk on her own.

The Becks said that along with Dusttie being closer to their new son, they were thankful the Ronald McDonald House had all the resources she needed to properly care for both her and Evan including a room with private bathroom, meals and laundry facilities and more. They said they considered this situation a real blessing.

Dusttie said that before all this happened with their son, she was not aware of the mission of the Ronald McDonald House. She had seen the donation boxes and occasionally heard of something the organization was doing, but admittedly never paid attention.

Evan is now four years old and is a happy and healthy preschooler who loves to play at McDonald's or on the computer, and is a Lightning McQueen fanatic from Disney's Cars movies.

"It's true that life is a highway, full of traffic jams, potholes, dangers and some of the most intriguing things you'll ever see," said Dusttie. "The road may not be easy to travel, but you'd be surprised where help will come from when the engine breaks down or the wheels come off."

The "Give A Little Love" campaign to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois (RMHCCI) is running through Tuesday, Feb. 14, and invites local residents to participate by donating $1 or more during their next visit to Litchfield McDonald's and have their name written on a heart displayed in the restaurant. All of the proceeds from these hearts will stay in Central Illinois and directly benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield.

A 501(c)3 charity, RMHCCI could not provide a home to over 400 families each year without the support of the central Illinois community. For more information, visit rmhc-centralillinois.org.

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