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Ronald McDonald House switches on Christmas lights

The Brittain family – Taylor, Harper, Charlotte, Christian and Riley (left to right) – spent 50 days at the Red Deer Ronald McDonald House earlier this year. They returned to the house Friday for the annual Light the House event. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Ronald McDonald House was a “godsend” for the Brittain family.

Earlier this year, Taylor Brittain went into labour just 26 weeks and two days while pregnant with twins.

“We delivered here in Red Deer, but then the girls were transferred by ambulance to Foothills Hospital in Calgary,” explained Brittain.

While in Calgary, one of the two baby girls passed away. After staying at the Calgary Ronald McDonald House for 58 days, Brittain, her husband Christian, their surviving newborn Riley and two older daughters – three-year-old Charlotte and two-year-old Harper – returned to Red Deer. The family stayed at the city’s Ronald McDonald House for another 50 days.

“This space was a godsend for someone with kids. It was hard on them to not have mom around for so long – I’d always be at the hospital with their sister,” said Brittain.

“It kept us closer together and meant so much for us. We actually celebrated Charlotte’s birthday here at the house. We did Thanksgiving here too. Everyone makes you feel at home.”

On Friday, with Riley now four months old, the family from the Innisfail area returned to the Red Deer Ronald McDonald House for its annual Light the House event.

The family switched on the house’s Christmas lights during the event to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

“It’s an honour for them to ask us to do this for Ronald McDonald House. The kids love it here. I don’t know what I would’ve done without this place. It’s means so much to anyone who needs it,” said Brittain.

Reyanne Spina, Ronald McDonald House associate director of guest services, said the Light the House event is a “great opportunity” to bring together families and the community.

“We’re really thankful to provide a home away from home for these families,” said Spina.

“It’s more than accommodations. It’s about creating the atmosphere from home, and today is an example of how we do that.

“With any Ronald McDonald House around the province, if you walk in around Christmas, it’s just magic.”

This year’s Light the House featured appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus. There was also a dinner group making food for everyone, as well as carollers and a station for cookie decorating and ginger bread houses.

Fortis Alberta and Adam Spiers with Night Lights and More worked together to present the light display.

To support Ronald McDonald House with a donation or to find more information about the nonprofit organization, visit

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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