Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House celebrates 5 years

Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House celebrates 5 years

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House has offered relief for families struck by tragedy of a hospitalized child. Wednesday, one father attended the house's anniversary event to thank the staff who helped his family five years ago.

As Mark Buxbaum and his family were traveling to Northern California through Bakersfield, they were involved in a car crash that seriously injured his son, Michael.

"Michael was staying over at the Kern Medical Center. He was in coma, had a traumatic brain injury and other physical injuries," said Buxbaum.

With his son in the hospital, going back home to San Diego wasn't an option, but neither was staying in a pricey hotel. Buxbaum said that's when the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House opened its doors to his family.

"The situation was tragic, but the people here were fantastic. They were amazing," he said. "They made an absolutely intolerable situation, bearable."

The Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House has served over 3,000 families, such as the Buxbaums, since opening in 2009.

"(Buxbaum) had never been to Bakersfield in his life, didn't even know a soul. But, he found a nurturing, loving, welcoming, very inexpensive, or free, place to stay," said Jim Darling of the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House.

Out of 336 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide, the Bakersfield house is one of the smallest. It only has five employees, but it's always open, "because you never know when someone's going to be knocking on your door looking for a place to stay," said Darling.