Why one family loves the Red Shoe Run—sign up now + run Saturday, April 15


Red Shoe Run
Hannah Smith + her husband at the Red Shoe Run. (RMHCA)

Although her pregnancy was normal, Hannah Smith had a feeling at 34 weeks that something just wasn’t right. She went in to UAB, had an emergency C-Section and welcomed her tiny daughter to the world that night. Keep reading for her story, the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham’s role and how you can sign up for the April 15 Red Shoe Run today.

Know before you go—Red Shoe Run: Rockin’ 5K

Red Shoe Run volunteers
Volunteers at the Red Shoe Run. (RMHCA)
  • What: The Red Shoe Run: Rockin’ 5K, presented by McDonald’s, is an annual celebration of family, fundraising + awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (RMHCA), with music from Summit Media.
  • Who: It’s family-friendly + accessible to those with mobility devices, strollers + all fitness abilities.
    • BONUS: There’s a Snoozer option for those who don’t want to run or walk or won’t be in Birmingham that day.
  • Goal: Raise $20,000 for 160 nights of comfort + care at the Ronald McDonald House + Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB Women + Infants Center.
  • When: Saturday, April 15, 8AM
  • Where: 5K + 1 Mile Fun Run courses start + finish right outside the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Get involved:
    • Register
    • Volunteer. Roles include:
      • Pre-race Packet Pick-Up 
      • Course Marshal 
      • Finish Line Experience 
      • Cheer Station 
      • Set Up Crew 
      • Race Day Check-In/Walk Up Registration 
      • Merchandise Volunteer 
      • “Ask Me” Greeters 
      • Volunteer Tent
    • Donate
Ronald McDonald House

Isla’s story

Red Shoe Run, RMHCA
The Red Shoe Run is a great opportunity to get friends + family together for a good cause. (RMHCA)

Isla (pronounced Eye-la)’s birthday would have been March 31. She was born six week premature, weighing only two pounds, nine ounces, which was very small for 34 weeks.

Mom Hannah hated being separated from her little one when she was in the NICU and was thrilled when her social worker told her they qualified to stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

So, when Isla was three or four days old, Hannah and her husband moved into the Ronald McDonald House. They thought they’d be there for six weeks.

McDonalds Round Up for Charity

Ronald McDonald House was a safe harbor for the Smiths while Isla was in the hospital

Red Shoe Run, RMHCA
There are lots of ways to get involved in the Red Shoe Run. (RMHCA)

The Smiths ended up living at Ronald McDonald House for five months. For four of those months, they didn’t know what was wrong with their daughter, who kept spiking fevers from invasive infections. Getting the calls that her care was being escalated was much less stressful since they could run over from across the street, and Hannah can’t imagine how she would have handled the stress of commuting back and forth to the hospital from home during that time.

After four months, Isla was the 45th patient in the world to be diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Mirage Syndrome. Most babies with this diagnosis are either stillborn or die before their first birthday.

Looking back, Hannah said that being able to grab a meal from the Ronald McDonald House kitchen, rest and take care of themselves was a lifesaver for her and her husband during Isla’s time in the NICU.

When she went back to work at UAB as a nurse practitioner, she loved the moments she could pop in and see Isla before her shift:

“I don’t know what I would have done without those moments—such sweet, tender moments with my daughter that I cherish so deeply now.”

McDonalds Round Up for Charity

The Red Shoe Run helps families

Red Shoe Run
The start of the Red Shoe Run. (RMHCA)

Ultimately, Isla passed away in Hannah’s arms at seven months old. After she died, her family was lost and hurting. When they heard that RMHCA was hosting the Red Shoe Run the following April, they signed up immediately with a team called “Be Brave for Isla.”

“It set an amazing goal for my husband and me—it got me outside every day to run and exercise when all I wanted to do is crawl in a hole and die. I really don’t know where I’d be without that run right after she died. It was also really important for my family and my husband’s family. We got a chance to do something bigger than us. 

Everyone at Ronald McDonald House was so loving, and they took such good care of us and our team. Now, my husband and I are starting our own nonprofit to serve bereaved families. I don’t think any of this would be possible if we hadn’t gotten the support after Isla’s death with the Red Shoe Run.”

Hannah Smith

Help raise $20,000 for 160 nights of comfort + care at the Ronald McDonald House + Ronald McDonald Family Room at UAB Women + Infants Center so families like Isla’s have a place to stay when they need it most. SIgn up to run or volunteer at the Red Shoe Run today.

Sponsored by:

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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