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updated: 12/4/2018 9:15 AM

Naperville fitness centers helping comfort families of sick kids

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  • The Ronald McDonald Family Room in Edward Hospital includes a kitchen that volunteers keep stocked with drinks and snacks for families of children who are receiving care at the hospital. Several fitness centers in the Naperville area collecting various wish-list items to keep the room well-stocked for the holidays and beyond.

    The Ronald McDonald Family Room in Edward Hospital includes a kitchen that volunteers keep stocked with drinks and snacks for families of children who are receiving care at the hospital. Several fitness centers in the Naperville area collecting various wish-list items to keep the room well-stocked for the holidays and beyond.
    Daily Herald file photo April 2017

  • A lounge for families of children who are undergoing treatment at Edward Hospital in Naperville is part of the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside the hospital.

    A lounge for families of children who are undergoing treatment at Edward Hospital in Naperville is part of the Ronald McDonald Family Room inside the hospital.
    Daily Herald file photo April 2017

 
 

Tucked away inside Edward Hospital in Naperville is a room that welcomes parents while their children undergo tests and hospital stays.

Scattered across the community are 18 fitness centers that are helping supply this room with everything it needs.

A variety of holiday donation drives are under way to benefit the Ronald McDonald Family Room in Edward Hospital, where families of children under the hospital's care can find a place to relax.

Members of the council that advocates for the Family Room reached out to gyms, yoga studios and boutique fitness centers and were thrilled with the response, Community Council Chairwoman Jessica Jozwiak of Naperville said.

"We called and asked them to partner with us on some of the needs we have," she said. "It worked out really well."

The Family Room will be receiving a fresh stock of wish-list items to help new moms, such as journals, hair brushes, gift cards for gas stations and coupons for free yoga, from 360Fit in Naperville; a pile of new toys from J-fit in Naperville; and a variety of donations from F45 in Naperville and Glen Ellyn as well as Baby Boot Camp, three Orangetheory Fitness locations, Goldfish Swim School and other facilities.

Among things the Family Room is set to receive is a supply of Keurig-machine coffee and hot chocolate pods as well as coffee creamer and other toppings. In a place like the Family Room, Jozwiak says it's the small comforts like a sweet seasonal drink that make all the difference.

"That's kind of nice this time of year, too -- cozy drinks that just bring comfort to people in a difficult time," Jozwiak said.

Each participating fitness center is putting its own spin on efforts to help the Family Room, which is a part of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana. At 360Fit, the donation drive for new-mom items lasts 360 hours, or 15 days. At J-fit, about 50 to 60 toy requests are written onto little ornaments on a festive tree, for clients to select when they attend a class, then return next time with the gift.

Owners of 360Fit and J-fit say they understand -- either firsthand or through friends -- the necessity of a place to take a break during the tough experience of comforting a child throughout a lengthy hospital stay.

When Nicole Suchevits' son was born, the 360Fit owner said he had health concerns that led to several hospital visits during his first two years. Childhood health challenges can be even more difficult during the holidays, she said.

"It's important for us to remember that not everyone is going to be home with their loved ones, and they're going to be spending time in a hospital," Suchevits said. "So if we can do one little thing to help them -- whether it's donations or yoga -- I think it's really important."

J-fit owner Jen Hoeft said families don't want to think about needing a facility such as the Family Room. But when they do, their need is strong and real.

"It's a blessing that it's there for so many families and kids," Hoeft said.

The donation drives at fitness centers also serve as awareness-builders for the Family Room, which doesn't have the same name recognition as, say, the Ronald McDonald House near Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, because it's physically inside Edward Hospital.

That's why Jozwiak said she's thrilled so many fitness center operators and clients want to help by giving "extra little things" for Family Room guests during the holidays.

"It seems," she said, "like people are always looking for ways to give back, and we are grateful to be part of such a generous community."

To help the Family Room, visit the donation site for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana at https://rmhccni.org/donate-cni/.