Mission Moment: The Runyon Family

We are honored to highlight the Runyon family at this year’s Wine, Women & Shoes event May 11, 2023.

We will be showcasing a special video about this family the night of the event. In the mean time, please read on to learn about their story and how Ronald McDonald House has been a part of it.

Paige and Brian Runyon directly understand the impact of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga from the numerous times they needed to call RMHC their home away from home. Almost six years ago when their twins Wallace and Whitleigh were born, both babies needed immediate attention in the NICU. Wallace was able to leave the NICU after one week, but the odds were not the same for Whitleigh.

48 hours after Whitleigh was born, she underwent her first surgery of what would be one of fourteen by the age of five. When Paige was pregnant with the twins, she got news that baby Whitleigh only developed one kidney. With that being devastating news in itself, the Runyons were hit with more severe news the day the twins were born.

Whitleigh was diagnosed with VACTERL association, a condition that for her involves vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, and renal anomalies. The doctors told Paige and Brian that Whitleigh was unable to properly process food and would not be able to walk or use her voice.

Now almost six years old, Whitleigh not only walks and speaks, but she does cartwheels (one-handed ones too) and sings any chances she gets. She also loves snacking on Cheetos.  She may have more procedures left, but you’d never know how many obstacles she’s overcome by the brightest smile and biggest personality to walk in any room.

The Runyon’s live an hour away from Erlanger Hospital. With the many surgeries and checkups in Whitleigh’s life, Paige and Brian found a space that takes care of them while their baby girl is getting better across the street. This is what the Ronald McDonald House is and will always be about, keeping families near their child when they need them most!