In 1969, former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill learned that his daughter Kim had acute lymphatic leukemia. She was only given six months to live, but she overcame the odds. During her three and a half years of treatment, Kim endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Her family was feeling strained as they helped her fight the illness.
In an effort to raise awareness about childhood cancer, Hill and his teammates organized a fashion show in 1971 to benefit the Leukemia Society of America. Just one year later, the Eagles raised $125,000 through a second event. Hill then established his own organization, Eagles Fly for Leukemia.
Eventually, Hill became connected to Dr. Audrey Evans, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Hill was interested to know how funds from his organization could be most helpful for families dealing with childhood illness. She suggested that the organization provide lodging for families of young cancer patients.
The First House
With a need for more funds to make the dream a reality, the following year, the team partnered with McDonald’s to promote the fast-food chain’s Shamrock Shakes. In exchange for naming the home after the company, Hill and his organization took all of the profit from the campaign. In October 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House was established in Philadelphia.
Since then, hundreds of Ronald McDonald Houses have been established in various countries. These places provide lodging for families with sick children while they’re receiving treatment. The houses also offer recreational activities and educational programs.
How It Works
The goal of Ronald McDonald House is to provide a home away from home for families who are struggling to provide for their sick kids. The organization also aims to decrease the stress levels of the families by offering them a budget-friendly lodging option. The organization accepts families from all over the country. Even if the cost of living becomes too expensive, the family will not be turned away as long as the room is available.
Since the organization only asks for a daily fee of $25, many people ask how the houses can remain operational. However, when you enter a McDonald’s, you’ll see donation boxes on the counter. These boxes are meant to raise funds for the houses. In 2012, the donation boxes collected over $50 million. If every customer of McDonald’s contributed a penny to the boxes, the organization would be able to raise a total of $250 million. There’s also a pop-tab donation drive that Ronald McDonald House locations participate in. Each donation of 730 pounds of aluminum helps raise funds for the organization. This money goes directly to the local Ronald McDonald House.
According to Kim Hill, the inspiration behind Ronald McDonald House came from her experience as a young leukemia patient. She noted that if she wasn’t sick, her life would have been different, and these houses would never have been built. Despite her passing in 2011, the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia still continues to flourish. Over the years, the organization has grown to include over 300 houses and a network of mobile units. It also has 194 Family Rooms in 19 countries.
The organization’s local chapters have been established in different countries. These groups rely on volunteers to carry out various projects, such as building sports centers for children with physical and cognitive disabilities. See if there is a Ronald McDonald House in your area where you can volunteer!