Genevieve’s Legacy

Before their daughter was even born, Jenalee and Patrick Mahoney were told to expect complications. When she was born, Genevieve was diagnosed with two holes in the upper and lower chambers of her heart and was also unable to swallow properly.

With a newborn in the NICU and a two-year old and a seven-year old at home, being 60 miles apart was difficult for the family. Fortunately, the Mahoney’s were referred to the Ronald McDonald House in Sioux Falls, and their other kids were able to spend time with Mom and Dad there.

“Our kids still remember their time at the Ronald McDonald House. The pajama program was just such an amazing surprise for them. The staff let them pick out their pajamas, it was so special. To be able to have that communal space where we could all come together and spend time, but yet be so close to the hospital is priceless,” Jenalee said. And Patrick added “when you're a parent and you're going through this, and you have a child who's going through what Genevieve was going through, so much of your energy is going there. But you have these other kids and you want to be a parent for them too. That was where the Ronald McDonald House was so wonderful. You felt like I'm a good parent to all of my children. And to have those memories of our whole family, when we were a whole family, that's really special.”

After 31 days, Genevieve could go home. She still needed the holes in her heart repaired but was making progress and developing. The Mahoney’s found out Genevieve was a candidate for heart surgery in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After a successful operation, another 41 days in the hospital, and another stay at another Ronald McDonald House for Jenalee and Patrick, Genevieve returned home with a perfect heart.

The Mahoney’s and the kids were finally together under one roof but before long Genevieve became sick with RSV. With complications in her lungs and heart, she was unable to recover from the respiratory virus and passed away before she was even a year old.

 “Because of the Ronald McDonald House, we don't have any regrets. We were able to be with her every day of her life. They gave us the one thing in life that you can never give back. And that's time. That's a gift. That's the ultimate gift.”
Patrick Mahoney

Reflecting on Genevieve’s life and their time at the Ronald McDonald House, the Mahoney’s decided to continue Genevieve’s legacy by collecting donations for the House. Patrick explained “we're not in that fight anymore, but there are people who are. We know what it meant to us. We hope it means that much to others. It's a great way for us to bring her forward with us.”

Genevieve Mahoney

On Genevieve’s first birthday, each of the Mahoney’s picked out a pair of pajamas and donated them to the House. On birthdays since, they’ve donated books and blankets and toys, all in Genevieve’s memory. In 2023 when Genevieve would have celebrated her 5th birthday, the Mahoney’s wanted to do something bigger. A post on social media about their pajama drive took off with boxes upon boxes of pj’s appearing on their doorstep and on their desks. Their son’s classmates held a schoolwide drive. All of Worthington rallied and collected and donated nearly 400 pairs of pajamas in Genevieve’s honor. As Jenalee said, “it was so exciting for us to be able to do that. And to think this tiny human that isn't here anymore can still impact our little world.”

We at RMHC South Dakota are grateful for the many individuals, families, and groups that hold fundraisers, collection drives, and donate pop tabs, all so we can continue keeping families close.