History of Ronald McDonald House Charities
When an unlikely partnership was formed in Philadelphia in 1974 between an NFL team, a children’s hospital and a restaurant chain, none of its members could have imagined that their dream of a “home-away-from-home” for families of seriously ill children would grow to become an international phenomenon. They simply wanted to create a place where parents of sick children could be with others who understood each others’ situations and could provide emotional support.
The seeds of the partnership were planted when Kim Hill, the 3-year-old daughter of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill, was diagnosed with leukemia. Hill and his wife camped out on hospital chairs and benches, ate food from vending machines and did all they could to keep Kim from seeing their sadness, exhaustion and frustration.
All around them, the Hills saw other parents doing exactly the same thing. They learned that many of the families had traveled great distances to bring their children to the medical facility; but the high cost of a hotel room was prohibitive. They continued to think, “there has to be a happy medium.”
Hill rallied the support of his teammates to raise funds to help other families experiencing the same emotional and financial traumas as his own. Through the Philadelphia Eagles’ general manager, Jim Murray, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. It was Dr. Evans’ dream for a house that could serve as a temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital that led to the first Ronald McDonald House.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown was founded on October 9, 1990. The charity began with a single RMHC program – the House program – though in June 2013, the charity acquired a second RMHC program, the Ronald McDonald Family Room. This room is located within WVU Medicine Children’s, and offers a place of reprieve for families, all the while being steps away from their child.
Today, more than 350 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide help families stay close to their sick children when they need to heal.