Meet Kai

Kai could very well be the next Chopin, Bach, or even the next Beethoven. He has a knack for using the piano to create musical magic that very few kids his age are disciplined or inventive enough to create.

Kai has a gift and he got to show that gift off in October when he was asked to play two of his original musical pieces at the 30th annual Ronald McDonald House New York Gala at Pier 60 in New York City. 

Kai's Stay at RMH-NY

So, why Kai?

Well, three and a half years ago Kai and his mother Kari's lives changed forever when he was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of brain cancer back in their home country of Panama. Immediately, Kari and Kai were made aware that the treatment that Kai would need to survive could not be found in their country.

So, Kai and Kari immediately hopped on a flight to find that treatment. He required next day surgery in New York City at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to survive. While they were in NYC for treatment and recovery, Kai and Kari stayed at Ronald McDonald House New York (RMH-NY).

Kai and the Piano

Kai and Kari at Ronald McDonald House New York

When Kai arrived at RMH-NY, he was so excited to see the pianos in the East 73rd street House. He would sit down and play on them whenever time allowed. Before his diagnosis, Kai had just started taking piano lessons back at home,  but those lessons quickly came to a stop when Kai and Kari had to relocate to NYC. 

When the Programs department at RMH-NY saw Kai's love for playing piano and heard about him losing the opportunity to take lessons, they quickly reserved private time for Kai to play on a house piano weekly.  The staff even located a volunteer piano instructor to teach Kai so he could continue taking lessons just as he did at home.

Kai's mom, Kari explained more specifically how the House helped to keep his love of music alive through his treatment,

“We’d come home from the hospital and play the piano, and just play a little bit here and there. He’s also on the autism spectrum, so communication is challenging for him. Music is his therapy through cancer, but also his way of communicating."

Personalizing a Child's Stay at RMH-NY

RMH-NY's Programs Team had quickly picked up on the importance of music to Kai's well being and understood that the best way to support Kai's treatment was to give him a place to come and play and find peace at the end of those long, exhausting days at the hospital. 

To date, Kai has had 36 radiation treatments and seven full surgeries in an attempt to cure his brain cancer. Kai and Kari lived in Ronald McDonald House New York three years ago when most of those procedures took place. 

Kai is Cancer-free

Kai and Kari at Ronald McDonald House New York's 30th Annual Gala

In October, when Kai stepped on the RMH-NY's 30th Annual Gala stage to perform two of his very own composed musical pieces, he played confidently as a nine-year-old boy who was no longer sick. At the gala, Kari announced that Kai was officially in remission, and though it had a probability of returning, at the moment he no longer has brain cancer.

Kari remembered the House fondly when she interviewed with multiple newscasters that were there to meet Kai and help tell his brave and triumphant story to the world. 

Kari spoke about Ronald McDonald House New York.

"We didn't want for anything while we were there. They provided meals. They provided private space and then spaces where families who were going through the same struggle could support each other. "

More than Just Pediatric Cancer Patients

Not every family in the house is dealing with a child who has cancer. In the past, Ronald McDonald House New York was known specifically for housing families with children battling pediatric cancer.

Today, the scope of RMH-NY's mission has broadened and families from all over the world and many from here around the five boroughs of New York City stay in the house while their children battle a multitude of different life-threatening illnesses. Each and every family, the staff and volunteers at RMH-NY remain hopeful every child will have a happy ending to their story just as Kai did.

kai and Kari Coley at RMH-NY

Donor's Direct Impact

RMH-NY donors directly fund each families' ability to stay in the House, fund the meals that are provided, and fund special opportunities to personalize each child's stay at the house as the staff was able to do for Kai and his piano lessons.

Without donations from everyone who can give, Ronald McDonald House New York could not support these families as much as they are able to do today. 

80% of All Children with Pediatric Cancer...

Did you know that not 20 years ago, 80% of children with pediatric cancer did not survive ?

Today, due to new expert medical treatments and the endless ways that RMH-NY and others like it have been able to improve overall care for the families due to gifts from so many amazing donors, 80% of the children with pediatric cancer survive and live long, healthy lives!

That is a testament to the direct impact every single donation has on saving these kid's lives. So please give what you can to help us support and save more children just like Kai every single day.

Multiply Your Impact

Many donors decide to give a recurring gift monthly to multiply their reach throughout the year. It's financially manageable and your giving will directly touch so many more young lives. No matter what, give what you can. Every dollar helps.

You never know, you might just be helping to save the next Chopin or Mozart with your gift.

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