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McDonald’s Celebrates the Spirit of the Olympics with Brice & Nadia #FriendsWin

Brice Munoz, 12, and his sister Nadia, nearly 9, share more than the same parents and the same home in tiny Diboll, Texas, about an hour and a half north of Houston.
 
They also have the same rare genetic disorder, glycogen storage disease Type IV, which required both children to have liver transplants as toddlers.
 
Drawn close by their shared illness, Brice and Nadia have become one another’s protector and advocate, confidante and coach. And best buddy.
 
“Nadia and Brice are siblings, and they are also friends,” said Leslie Bourne, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House® Houston. She has watched the pair grow up during frequent stays at the Holcombe House for their treatment at nearby Texas Children’s Hospital.
 
“They understand what the other is going through when no one else out there does,” she said.
 
Now, the siblings and buddies will share another, happier experience.
Brice and Nadia are among four pairs of children who are being sent by McDonald's to participate in the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games on August 5.  McDonald's Corporation is the founding mission partner of Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®), and McDonald’s invited RMHC alumni children to Rio de Janeiro for the upcoming Olympic Games.  All 8 children became friends through shared experiences with RMHC. 
 
The children are part of the global McDonald’s Olympics Kids Program, which celebrates the spirit of friendship – a key message of the Olympic movement. Nearly 100 children aged 8 to 12 years old from around the world are being sent to Rio to participate in this program.
 
McDonald’s has sent children to the Olympic Games before, but this is the first year the children will participate in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. U.S. Olympic gymnasts Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci and their 9-year old son, U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres and her 9-year old daughter, and U.S. Olympic soccer player Julie Foudy and her 9-year old daughter and 8-year old son are among the athletes who will join these children and their families in Rio.
 
The Holcombe House has been a safe, nice and affordable place to stay and be surrounded by kind, caring people for the Munoz family. In frequent visits there over the past decade, not only did staff ask Nora how her children were doing, “They always said, ‘How are you doing?’”
 
Procedures, poking and prodding often await Brice and Nadia at the hospital in Houston, yet they are always excited about their stays at Holcombe House.
 
“They’ll bug me all day, asking, ‘When are we going?’” said Nora. “They are ready to see everybody.’” Everybody includes “Miss Leslie,” who opens arms for big hugs from both children and Kimberlyn Clarkson, director of volunteer services, who shares Nadia’s love of nail polish and manicures.
 
As siblings, Brice and Nadia have their moments. “Sometimes,” says their mother, “They fight like cats and dogs. But more often, they support one another.”
 
When one is sick and can’t go to school, the other immediately checks in when they get home. “They’ll ask, ‘Are you OK? How did your day go?’” said Nora.  When Nadia faces new tests and procedures, she consults with her brother because chances are he has been through the same thing already.
 
Equally, when Brice faces new challenges, Nadia will stay by his side so she can alert her mother if he needs anything. And, in what is a touching, visible sign of their affection, Nadia insists on holding Brice’s hand when he has painful tests. Brice tries to do the same for his sister, but she won’t allow it! “Her brother’s gentle gesture makes her cry,” Nadia says.
 
It is rare, though, to see either without a smile on their face, Bourne says. “These kids never complain. They are two of the happiest, sweetest kids, a daily reminder of how lucky we all are. It is a model of how we should all be.” Which is why they are more than deserved of this amazing experience.
 
Brice and Nadia were nominated by the staff at the Ronald McDonald House Houston and will be accompanied to Rio by their parents, Nora and Gabriel.


 
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