Families and friends came together for the spring tea on April 22 at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. With ticket prices, a silent auction, and a percentage of sales from Saks Fifth Avenue’s onsite Ippolita jewelry sale, the event raised $20,000.

Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, announced the “Deborah Virgiles Family Fund,” in memory of former board president Deborah Virgiles, who was a co-chair of the tea since its inception and died last spring. Contributions to the fund will be used to supplement the unpaid cost of the room. Of the actual $200 per night room cost, guests only pay $10 per night. No family is turned away due to an inability to pay.

Andrew Manning, of Wixom, a former guest at the House, told of the medical saga that he and his wife Vanessa Yaldoo went through when they learned their newborn daughter Camden had Hirschsprungs disease, a birth defect in which she had nerve cells missing at the end of the bowel, throughout the colon and in 40 percent of the small intestine. Now one-year-old, Camden came to the event, looking adorable, along with big sister, Carly, age 8. The couple is expecting a son in May, and their two-year-old daughter Claire did not attend.

The family stayed two months at the House. Manning said, “The most important thing is that we didn’t feel like we were alone. Small gestures made a big difference. The power of a single night’s rest or a home-cooked meal can help mend a broken soul. I knew this was a home to start healing in. We now consider everyone at the House our newfound family.”

Litomisky presented the family with a glass heart, noting, “I’m glad we were there for you.”

The tea drew 160 people. Saxophonist Yancyy entertained with light jazz, while Darrell Swift sketched portraits and a balloon master whipped up balloon creations for kids. Teresa Saputo, of Oakland Township, and Kyla Marcial, of Clinton Township, co-chaired the event and are board members of the House.

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