Many families have to travel great distances in order to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured children. The long distances and grueling treatments can take their tolls — being away from home for so long and dividing a family make the painful process of treatment or recovery more difficult for everyone. Especially for children, there is nothing scarier than not having mom and dad with you for love and support when you need them most.
An Incredible Story
Philadelphia Eagle’s tight end Fred Hill was changed forever when his 3-year-old daughter Kim was diagnosed and treated for leukemia in 1974. He and wife Fran camped out on hospital benches and sat in dismal waiting rooms for the course of Kim’s three-year treatment. During this time, they watched other families of seriously ill children do the same thing — many of the families had to travel far and couldn’t afford a hotel room.
A Team Effort
They knew there had to be a solution, so Fred rallied the support of his teammates and Eagles’ general manager Jim Murray, who together offered their support to Dr Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Evans had always dreamed of a temporary residence for families of children being treated at the hospital. Murray enlisted the local McDonald’s advertising agency, who with the support of a McDonald’s Regional Manager, launched the St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake (the “Shamrock Shake”) promotion. Funds raised helped buy an old house located near the hospital, which was opened in 1974 as the first Ronald McDonald House. The network of Houses quickly grew after that. In 2010, the foundation is scheduled to open its 300th Ronald McDonald House.
In addition to Ronald McDonald Houses, many hospitals have a Ronald McDonald Family Room, where families can rest and regroup right at the hospital, just steps away from their sick child. Research shows that a family presence in the hospital helps kids heal faster and cope better. Staying close by allows parents to better communicate with their child’s medical team and improves adherence to complicated treatment plans as well. Services may vary from Family Room to Family Room, but typical amenities include a kitchen, showers, sleeping rooms, laundry facilities, internet access, reference books, a seating area with a TV, and a quiet room.
All around the globe, nearly 10 million children die from preventable and treatable diseases each year. But this number does not have to be so high! To help lower this statistic, Ronald McDonald House Charities has sent out 40 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles. These state-of-the-art vehicles, 40 feet long by 8 feet wide, are stationed in vulnerable communities across the US and in the rest of the world as well. Each mobile station provides cost-effective, high-quality medical, dental, and health education services and opens the door to health care for thousands of deserving children.