Time isn’t always the best indicator of the impact one’s life has on others.
Take little Riley Mosher. Riley was born on May 28, 2018, at St. Anthony Community Hospital. Her family welcomed their beautiful little baby. However, Riley was rushed to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
For 17 days, members of her family traveled daily back and forth to Westchester while her mom, Taylor Mosher, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital.
The experience at Ronald McDonald House is something Taylor Mosher and her family will never forget. They decided to help other families who would stay there, making gift boxes and bags for families focused on the well-being of their babies. For their dedication to the Ronald McDonald House Greater Hudson Valley, the Mosher family of Warwick has been named the 2020 Family of the Year, part of the annual Red Shoe Awards.
“We spent 17 days when Riley was in the NICU. A parking lot separated the hospital from the Ronald McDonald House,” said Mosher. “They don’t ask you for anything.”
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t get anything back.
Taylor and her mom, Lori Mosher, decided to make care packages for families coming to the Ronald McDonald House. They made their first delivery in October 2018, a gesture to help others who were now where they once were.
Then on Dec. 21, 2018, little Riley suddenly passed away in her sleep from a seizure. Her family took their grief and turned it into purpose, wanting to help others while honoring Riley’s life.
That they have done. With two more deliveries of care packages for families as well as donations of supplies for the house itself, the Mosher family has made an impact.
Reminders that 'they are not alone'
“Families are touched by the gifts from the Mosher family,” said Christina Riley, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley. “I think when families are staying here, receiving these packages reminds them they are not alone, especially when they hear it is from a family that has gone through what they are. Families are touched by it.”
“For a lot of people, the NICU is not an expected trip,” said Mosher. “They had the baby elsewhere and just follow to the NICU without planning.”
That’s what happened to her. She received a care package when she stayed at the house, donated by a local bank. She and her mom decided they wanted to help make parents feel a little more prepared, more at home, inspired.
Their care packages have two parts – one for the parents, the other for the baby. The parents’ package included toiletries, toothbrushes, hair brush, face masks, hand sanitizer, notebook and pen, and snacks. For the baby there is a book, a handmade blanket, a onesie and a crocheted octopus.
“The octopus feels like the umbilical cord, which is helpful to preemies,” said Lori Mosher, who crocheted the first batch.
Taylor Mosher also included milestone cards and inspirational messages. “Tiny but mighty,” “Good morning beautiful,” “From a tiny spark may burst a mighty flame.”
The effort became known as Riley’s Parade. “Riley’s theme when she was born was elephants,” explained Lori. “Elephants in the wild protect each other, and a group of elephants is called a parade. After Riley died, family from all over stepped up to help us in our efforts. They became our parade.”
In addition to Taylor and Lori, the Mosher “parade” being honored by Ronald McDonald House includes Taylor’s dad Mark and her brother Michael.
The NICU is a very sad place to be, said Riley’s grandma. “We wanted to give comfort, not sadness,” she said. “Little things become big things, like wrapping your baby in a blanket putting a onesie on them. Everything you do is meaningful.”
Executive Director Riley said staying at the house builds bonds between families and with the house. “Many want to give back. The Moshers are one of the families who look to pay it forward. We are very grateful for their support.”
The Mosher family marked what would have been Riley’s first birthday in May with another delivery of care packages to the Ronald McDonald House. Each delivery consists of 36 care packages – 12 for girls, 12 for boys, and six each for boy and girl micro-preemies.
The family, which has gotten help from a local girl scout troop and members of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary in the past, plans to do this twice each year or as often as they can, given the time necessary to make them.
“Ronald McDonald House is amazing,” said Lori Mosher. “They continue to support Taylor and us.”
“On what would have been Riley’s first birthday, they sent us a beautiful wind chime,” said Taylor.
'Everything happens for a reason'
Both Taylor and Lori Mosher said they wish they never had to know the wonderful service Ronald McDonald House provides to families. But they do, and with that knowledge they have found a new purpose.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said Lori. “We have to focus on that reason, to help others. Riley made me want to be a better person for her.”
The Ronald McDonald House Greater Hudson Valley Red Shoe Awards were set to be presented on March 26 but have been postponed to Oct. 22, 2020 because of the ongoing coronavirus emergency.