SOUTH BEND – Parents know how tough it can be to take the kids out to dinner or find a babysitter so you can go to the grocery store alone.
For families with medically challenged children, it can be almost impossible.
Thanks to nursing students at Saint Mary's College, those parents are getting a break.
In this month's "Beyond the Campus," WSBT's Kristin Bien spoke to a couple who benefits from the program.
Sarah Doolittle and Ryan Kazmierzak take nothing for granted. Their youngest daughter Rainny, now 6-years-old, was born with a mitochondrial disorder, which means her muscles and organs don’t work as they should and sometimes shut down.
“We were told she would never leave the hospital, she would never move, never communicate, and she is doing all those things now,” said the parents.
But Rainny’s condition is terminal, and her parents understand that every day with her is a blessing.
“Every time she is sick, we have to worry,” the parents said. “Even just a slight illness, ear infection, anything could shut her body down.”
Rainny requires 24-hour care. That means her mom and dad have to be with her constantly.
Thanks to the Saint Mary’s College Respite Program, they can get a break. The program allows parents some time off while their medically fragile children are cared for by St. Mary’s nursing students. Parents can take a nap, go grocery shopping, spend time with their other children or clean.
Last week, Saint Mary’s nursing students organized another luxury for this family and others in the program – a Christmas party that the entire family could attend – Mom, Dad, Rainny and her older sister.
At the party, the families got dinner and presents. And while these things don’t seem like a lot, for families like this, it is sometimes all they need.
Money is tight for families like this. Often, one or both of the parents can’t work because of the constant care they must provide to their children.
That’s why the dinner and presents were donated.
Through the respite program, the nursing students spend 16 hours a semester with their designated family.