HART: Masons keep tabs on, and for, Ronald McDonald House
Quincyans Chevi and Nick Ingalls have always kept tabs on the Ronald McDonald House.
Actually, tabs for the Ronald McDonald House.
Their 3-year-old son, Mason, was born prematurely and with a life-threatening disorder called PPHN -- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn -- that limits blood flow to the lungs and the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
The Ingalls spent a harrowing month at St. Louis Children's Hospital after Mason was born. They have never forgotten the kindness of the friends, family and hospital staff. They stayed at the Ronald McDonald House by the hospital for $5 a day, and they were determined to give back.
Up to 20 percent of newborns with PPHN do not survive. Though it was touch and go for Mason, he came through and is now a happy and healthy little guy.
"He is really doing well," says Chevi Ingalls, a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher in Liberty. "He's a normal and sometimes ornery little kid."
One of the ways to raise money for Ronald McDonald House is to collect scrap metal. The Ingalls decided to save the pull tabs from the top of aluminum beverage cans, and in 2010 they took about 250 pounds of tabs to the event called Tab Top Pandemonium.
They immediately began collecting tabs again after the 2010 event and decided to save for two years. Soon the tabs took over the garage, and they had to store them in other places.
They borrowed Nick Ingalls' father's truck to take them down to St. Louis last month for the Tab Top Pandemonium. When they were finally weighed, the Ingalls had 995 pounds of tabs.
That equals about 1.4 million tabs. Normally they are worth about 55 cents a pound, but for the event the value was doubled, which means the Ingalls were able to donate about $1,000 to the Ronald McDonald House.
"My family asked many people from Quincy, Liberty and even St. Louis to save their tabs in honor of Mason," Chevi Ingalls says. "It really paid off."
Turns out Mason and his parents donated the third-most number of tabs. They will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to Six Flags in St. Louis later this month, where they will meet St. Louis Cardinals infielder David Frese. They are also attending an awards ceremony.
The Ingalls wish there was a closer place to bring the tabs, but driving to St. Louis is no big deal.
"They were amazed that we drove three hours," Chevi Ingalls says of the reaction from the Ronald McDonald staff. "They said, â You drove that far?' And we said, â Absolutely we did!' "
Mason will soon have a little brother or sister join the family, as Chevi is pregnant and due in August. And while they will continue to support the Ronald McDonald House, they are hoping they won't have to use it.
"We told them that we love the charity, but we hope to never use your facility again," Chevi says with a laugh.