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Seville Quarter Hosts The Ronald McDonald House Firecracker 5K Race

Seville Quarter Hosts The Ronald McDonald House Firecracker 5K Race

When the runners took off Saturday morning to start the 2014 Ronald McDonald House Firecracker 5K race, Joyce Vann stayed on the sidelines cheering the 900-plus participants. Besides, she had two young boys she and her husband, Tommy Vann, had to watch over. The two boys were born into uncertainty, and it was the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida that came to the family's rescue.

Joshua, now a big-cheeked, big-bellied bouncing baby, was born premature in November and weighed 3 pounds at birth. For two months, Tommy and Joyce stayed at the Ronald McDonald House near the Sacred Heart Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where the wee one was being cared for.

When Joshua's older brother, Jacob, was born three years earlier, doctors were afraid he had spinal meningitis and hospitalized the boy. That would be the first time the couple would stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

"We didn't have to worry about a thing," Joyce said, decked out in red, white and blue to cheer on the runners for the Ronald McDonald House fundraiser.

Then, she looked at little Joshua peeking out from his stroller.

"I don't think he would be as healthy as he is if we wouldn't have been able to be at his side when he was hospitalized," she said. "The Ronald McDonald House really helped our family. They're amazing."

The Ronald McDonald House offers rooms and housing to parents of children who are hospitalized.

The Ronald McDonald House opened in Pensacola in 1984 with a six-bedroom house. Now, it has 26 bedrooms. In its 30 years, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida has assisted more than 6,000 families.

"They really are the most amazing charity I know of," Joyce Vann said. "You can't say enough about what they do for families."

Even though the Vanns and their little ones stayed on the sidelines, the couple's two older children did run the Firecracker 5K through the historic streets of Pensacola.

Summer Jimmerson, Ronald McDonald House Charities development director, said the annual run preceding the Fourth of July is one of the organization's signature fundraisers.

"You can tell it means a lot to people when you see this many people show up so early (7:30) in the morning," Jimmerson said.

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