THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT
Like most iconic success stories, Ronald McDonald House began as a little idea that simply refused to stop growing.
Imagine having to spend every night for months camped out in your child’s hospital room, eating food from vending machines and all the while trying to stay positive and happy for the sake of your seriously ill youngster.
That was the case for American football hero Fred Hill, in 1974, when his three-year-old daughter Kim was diagnosed with leukaemia.
The Philadelphia Eagles star and his wife were forced to sleep on benches in hospital hallways as their daughter received vital treatment. All around them they saw other parents suffering the same fate.
Many had travelled long distances to bring their children to the hospital and most couldn’t afford long-term hotel accommodation.
Fred rallied his team-mates to raise money for families in need. A deal between the team’s General Manager and the head of paediatric oncology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia resulted in the purchase of a seven-bedroom house to serve as accommodation for families with sick children.
Local McDonald’s restaurant owners joined forces and organised a special sale of mint-flavoured milkshakes to raise money to renovate the house. They brought in over US$35,000. The relationship between the restaurants and the charity grew from there.
The charity, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), now operates in over 36 countries at over 338 properties that collectively offer over 6000 bedrooms to families with seriously ill children.
RMHC’s sole purpose is to help those families to lead happier and healthier lives.
In 1981 the first Australian Ronald McDonald House opened in Sydney’s Camperdown. There are now 15 Ronald McDonald Houses in Australia that have collectively provided over 68,000 families with over 1.2 million bed nights.
McDonald’s Australia pays all of the administration and management costs, meaning every cent given by donors goes directly to programs that benefit children. Those programs go way beyond the Houses themselves.
The Ronald McDonald Learning Program allows children that have suffered a serious illness to catch up on their education.
Five Ronald McDonald Family Retreats in popular holiday destinations around Australia give families with sick children the chance to take a holiday.
Cord Blood Banks, which collect umbilical cord blood for its high stem cell content, have RMHC as their major private funder.
Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and Family Facilities at an ever-growing list of Australian hospitals provide a comfortable retreat for parents going through the stress of looking after their seriously ill children.
The RMHC Charlie Bell Scholarship Program, named after the first Australian global McDonalds Corporation CEO, provides financial assistance to deserving young people that have experienced a serious illness.
Add to these projects numerous research grants, annual charity balls, fundraising bike rides and much more, and RMHC adds up to a fearsome ally in the effort to improve the lives of seriously ill children and their families.