Bianca Rollbusch, an 18-year old Eastlake High School senior held a “party drive” for siblings staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, who had siblings across the street at Rady Children’s hospital who were going through cancer treatment. As president of Eastlake’s Medical Career Club, they collected streamers, party hats, and anything needed to create parties for the siblings staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
She is also the president of the school’s Titans Fight Cancer.
“We wanted to make the day special for siblings who had to stay at the Ronald McDonald House because their sibling was being treated right next door. We thought it was great thing for us to do, especially right around Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Having spent her fifth and sixth birthdays in the hospital, she knows how much a small gesture like holding a small party can bring some fun and brightness during a family’s challenging times. At 4-years-old, she was diagnosed with leukemia and came off treatment while in first grade. Since that time, she said she has always been involved in the Rady’s community in some way.
“Now that I am a teenager, some of my best friends and me are volunteers at the Red Cross out there, and that really inspired me to continue to be involved with the cancer community, especially the child cancer community, so that is why I started Titans Fight Cancer and the Medical Careers Club. I thought it was a great idea to merge some things together. Families and patients are all part of the medical community.”
And Bianca is looking at working in the medical community in her career as she prepares to go to SDSU.
“Part of the idea when I took the spot of the Medical Careers Club, is that I do not necessarily want to be the doctor,” she said. “Many students want to be doctors and nurses. I want to be a medical researcher. Right now, I am planning to go down the microbiology path in college.”
Bianca said it is different for everybody, but the point she wants to make clear with the students at Eastlake is that you do not have to be a doctor or nurse to work in the medical field.
“There are so many aspects to it,” she said. “You can be a researcher, or a medical filer. There are so many opportunities in the medical field that we do not always realize is medically related. And that community is a huge part of keeping people healthy and happy. We help inspire students that if they like something, think that it something cool, and realize that it is part of the medical field, it something to be proud of. To have that relationship with your fellow students and have that one-on-one in helping others.”
Chuck Day, Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego president and CEO said the Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families with a child in the hospital.
“As you can imagine, all of the family needs during this stay, with an average stay of 20 nights, they need lots of different things,” he said. “For us, that means food donations to feed them, and it is also the small things, the very impactful things like what Bianca is doing for us. With her experience as a former patient, it is absolutely remarkable, but not unexpected because of who she is, that she would rally her fellow students at Eastlake High to create a special moment for children here at the house.”
Day said he looks at a clipboard every day, and it has one purpose — who has an upcoming birthday. He said they try to take a moment with staff and volunteers with those families to make sure that those birthdays are celebrated. He said with Bianca making sure that the siblings’ birthdays are important and celebrated, even in the middle of their siblings’ health challenge is a remarkable moment that they can celebrate with families there.
“What Bianca and her group at the Medical Careers Club is doing, is making possible those moments of brightness, of light, and of joy, that sometimes do not happen very often when they are here,” he said. “Two and a half years of treatment, she knew when there was a special moment. I know as a patient she felt that. But my goodness, bringing those special moments to children that she will never know, what a wonderful perspective she has in her young life about what a difference she can make. And that is what is happening. People can have those special moments even when tough things are happening next door as they work to get their child better.”
Day said there are several ways to help Ronald McDonald House Charities. It has a wish list on Amazon, and another wish list on its website.
“And there are a wide range of things that people can donate to us,” he said. “Over the last two years of the pandemic, the community support through that wish list has been unbelievable. But none so special as what Bianca and her students are doing here at the house.”
Day said because they are directly across from Rady Children’s and around the corner from Sharp Mary Birch Hospital that the House is constantly full. With a wait list every night.
“Our job is to support those families in need as they support their child next door,” he said.
“And our community has been phenomenal in helping us do that. Tonight, we will have 56 families with us, and we will serve around 200 meals to folks who cannot fit because of our waitlist, but all of this is made possible because of the community we have. The San Diego community is spectacular in supporting charities and organizations. And our South Bay community continues to support us.”