GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — This year is WNCT’s 5th Annual Ronald McDonald House Telethon.

While we raise money for the houses in Greenville, we also share the stories of families impacted by the Ronald McDonald House.

“I was just trying to figure out how a healthy pregnancy turned into a sick, sick, sick baby,” said Christi Middleton.

It happened on January 31st, 2021. Russell and Christi Middleton awaited their baby’s arrival at Wayne UNC Health Care, when doctors rushed Christi into an emergency C-section.

“When they brought him out and he wasn’t crying,” said Christi. “I was freaking out because I was like my baby was breathing or my baby had a heartbeat 10 minutes ago.”

Baby Knox waited for an ambulance to transfer him to Greenville. The family arrived at Vidant Medical Center, only to find out Knox also had a rare infection. Doctors put him on a 21-day course of antibiotics, leaving the Middletons without a place to stay while they waited for their baby to get better.

“We were like ‘OK so what are we going to do?’,” said Christi. “We’re probably looking at a couple grand to stay in a hotel or we’re looking at wear and tear on our cars, gas.”

Luckily, the Ronald McDonald House had space for the couple, giving them one less thing to worry about.

“It just kind of took the burden off,” said Russell. “We could focus on going to see Knox everyday and coming back and having a place close to sleep. And that way if there was an emergency, we could get back over there quick.”

The Middletons spent 18 nights at the Ronald McDonald House.

“The support we received from the Ronald McDonald House, they would always ask ‘How’s your baby?’,” said Christi. “‘Do you have any pictures?’ ‘Know when you’re going home yet?’

“It was a blessing all the activities that they had afterward because you would sit at the hospital all day and, like by the time you got back, you were mentally and physically exhausted. So we always said that our favorite part was Bingo night because we could just have some fun.”

After those 18 days, Russell and Christi finally got to take their baby home.

“The first day we weren’t sure he was going to make it,” said Christi. “Looking back at our pictures from when he was first born, the only thing that still looks the same is he still has his frizzy hair that he had when he was born. But it doesn’t even look like him now. So we’re blessed to be able to take him home with us and be his parents.”

But they still remember the support they received from the Ronald McDonald House. Now, they’re paying it forward.

“We try to donate meals like every other month or so because we know when we were here how important it was to make sure that you do eat because when you are stressed out, a lot of times you don’t eat,” said Christi.

The Middletons say Knox might have come into this world silent. But now, he’s a healthy 6-month-old baby.

“It’s a huge blessing,” said Russell. “He’s very happy. He wakes up smiling and goes to bed smiling.”