It was a late October day in Sturgis, MI (St. Joseph County), when fifteen-year old Dayton Johnson and his best friend, thirteen-year old Asher Foster, took out their dirt bikes for some outdoor fun. That fun turned tragic when the boys had a severe head-on collision, causing traumatic brain injuries, multiple facial fractures and broken bones for both boys.
They were transported by ambulance to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, where both boys spent 12 days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit before being transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids to begin the healing process. Once Asher and Dayton were admitted to Mary Free Bed, both sets of parents – Keri and Troy Johnson and Dawn and Matthew Foster – were referred to the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan (RMHWM) so they could stay near their sons, instead of almost two hours away. Being together at the House through the boy’s rehabilitation process gave the families strength. Dayton’s mom Keri says, “Having the Fosters here with us at the House so we could walk every step of this difficult journey together has been an unbelievable gift. It was also comforting to meet and socialize with other families facing similar challenges. “
Although Asher was expected to spend a month in rehabilitation, he recovered quicker than expected and was released after just 20 days. Dayton, who had more severe injuries, is hoping to be released soon, after 42 days – just in time to spend Christmas at home! Both Dayton and Asher will need to return to Mary Free Bed for follow-up rehabilitation appointments.
Says Keri, “The RMHWM has been a blessing. Just to know we had a warm, welcoming and safe place to stay helped set our mind at ease. We were especially thankful for the home-cooked meals. The expense of meals and lodging is next to impossible when you are not working and are caring for a family member in the hospital.”
Both families are grateful to everyone who has helped make an unimaginable situation tolerable. Being close to their sons every day allowed them the peace and comfort they needed to focus on what mattered most – family.