Now happy, healthy kindergartners with a new reality TV show
Now happy, healthy kindergartnerswith a new reality TV show
The yellow bus stops in front of the brick two-story neo-colonial in a quiet Licking County neighborhood. Six kindergartners-four boys and two girls-bound down the steps and out of the schoolbus door, unhindered by backpacks seemingly as big as they are.
Josiah, the smallest of the siblings, bursts into the house and heads to his father, Ro, who sits at the dining-room table. While his brothers and sisters take off their coats, Josiah drops several plastic links on the dining room table. The trinkets are rewards for good behavior. "Wow, look at that," Ro says. "You were really good today, weren't you?"
"Really, really good," Josiah says with obvious pride.
Much has changed since Josiah and his five siblings were born at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in June 2010. The McGhee sextuplets-the first born in Columbus-are now energetic, healthy, playful 5-year-olds, about to become the subject of their second reality television series.
Five years ago, Ro and his wife, Mia, didn't know how they were going to make it. After struggling to have children, Mia turned to fertility drugs, resulting in the record-setting multiple birth. They were new parents, from tough backgrounds, unsure of what it takes to raise one child, let alone six. But they also had faith-in each other and in God. They chose not to have the offered "selective reduction" (aborting some of the fetuses) and viewed their big new family as a blessing.
Their faith was rewarded. Both everyday folks and celebrities rallied around the McGhees. After appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show, the TV host hooked the family up with $250,000 in credit with Wal-Mart and paid for a trip to Las Vegas for Ro and Mia, giving them the honeymoon they never had. Friends, family and strangers alike came forward, donating diapers, paying for car seats and offering helping hands. Although the family appreciated the help, they eventually had to begin to turn people away. "We got to the point where we had to tell everybody, 'Look, we can do it from here,'"recalls Mia, 35.
With the birth of the sextuplets, Mia quit her job with Chase to focus on the children, and Ro took a chance and launched his own carpet-cleaning business. Taking advantage of the publicity that the births attracted-which included a reality show, 6 Little McGhees, that ran on the OWN Network from 2012 to 2015-the business, McGhee Carpet Cleaning, grew as quickly as the family. What began with Ro and a portable cleaning machine has expanded to a handful of employees, two vans and an added venture into janitorial services. "You'd be surprised what sextuplets can do for you-they really motivated me," says Ro, 36.
The growth allowed the family to move into a three-bedroom, four-bathroom house in Licking County, where the children can attend a public school with enough kindergarten classrooms to allow each child to be in a separate class, something that was important for their parents.
In June, the family's new reality show, Growing Up McGhee, will premiere on the UP Network, which can be found on most satellite and cable providers in Central Ohio. Beginning this year, a camera crew from Figure 8 Films, the production company behind Jon and Kate Plus 8 and several other well-known reality programs, began following the McGhees around about eight hours a day. They are used to the attention. "It's just something that we've always been a part of," Ro says.
Ro and Mia have become confident parents over the past five years. On this February afternoon, they're firm but gentle. Mia wrangles the children to the kitchen, where she feeds them a snack. All the kids are dressed in matching clothes-the boys in button-down plaid shirts and the girls in pink jumpsuits with white headbands-as a security precaution; if one slips away from the group in a public place, it's easy for adults to figure out where they belong. And Mia stuffs small poof balls into a jar to reinforce good behavior. When the jar is filled, the kids get a reward.
"It's been beautiful," Mia says. "It's really been beautiful."