Ronald McDonald House Representatives Speak at Rotary Club
by Bob Augustin Jr.
The Lawrenceburg Rotary Club welcomed special guests Forrest Prince from McDonalds of Lawrenceburg, Liz Piercing, Executive Director of the Nashville Ronald McDonald Charities, and Mary Fox, volunteer and Advisory Board member for the Nashville Ronald McDonald House to its March 14, 2007 meeting. The Ronald McDonald House Charities operate the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald FamilyRoom on the Fifth Floor of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital which provide a place for parents and family members to rest and relax in a home environment while staying close to their sick child.
Executive Director of the Nashville Ronald McDonald Charities began the program with a story of the origin of the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1971, the three year-old daughter of Philadelpia Eagles Tight End Fred Hill was diagnosed with leukemia. Hill and his wife spent endless hours with their daughter in the hospital but, because they lived in the Philly area, they were able to go home to rest when they needed to. Hill noticed that other families with children in the hospital were sleeping in the waiting rooms and hallways of the hospital because they lived too far away to travel home every day.
Hill asked his daughter's physician, Audrey Evans, MD if there wasn't something that could be done to help these folks. Dr. Evans had been aware of the problem for a long time and wanted to purchase a nearby Brownstone where the family members could stay, but she needed funds and asked Hill to help. He called the General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles Jim Murray for assistance and he pledged the support of the Eagles organization. Murray in turn contacted the owners of the local McDonalds restaurants. Since it was around the middle of March, the Philly McDonalds sold green milkshakes for 25 cents on St. Patrick's Day as a fund raiser, and they collected $10,000.
Due to the efforts of Dr. Evans, the Philadelphia Eages, and the local McDonalds, the first Ronald McDonald House opened in 1974. There are currently over 270 Ronald McDonald Houses in 30 countries around the world.
Next on the program was Mary Fox, Volunteer and Advisory Board member of the Nashville Ronald McDonald House. Mrs. Fox related the story of her association with the Nashville RMH. In 1978 her eight year-old daughter was diagnosed with the adult form of leukemia. She was treated at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, but, because she had the adult form of leukemia, her treatment was not successful and she passed away a year later.
Mrs. Fox said that she and her husband decided to have another baby. When her new daughter was two years-old, she too was diagnosed with leukemia, but she had the children's form. She too was treated at Vanderbilts Children's Hospital, but her treatment was successful and she recovered and is now a young women in her late twenties. Because of her ordeal, Mrs. Fox was involved with the Nashville RMH from its inception.
The Nashville Ronald McDonald Charties will be holding its annual fund raiser, the "Calls for Kids Telecast", on Channel 2 WKRN Television on April 12, 2008 from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Local McDonalds owner Betty and Jim Bush will be accepting donations at the Lawrenceburg restaurant.
Since it opened in 1991, the Nashville RMH has hosted over 9,600 families from all 95 counties in Tennessee, 63 counties in Kentucky, 38 other states, two U.S. Territories, and 12 foreign countries. The families of 254 children from Lawrence County have stayed there over the years. The Nashville RMH requests that families pay $15 per night, but, since its primary goal is to "keep families close" by providing essential resources and a "home away from home", no one will be turned because they cannot pay. Donations of all types are accepted. For more information on how to get involved, please visit their website at www.rmhnashville.com or call 615-343-4000.
Pictured above are Polly Marsh, President-Elect Lawrenceburg Rotary Club, Executive Director of the Nashville Ronald McDonald House Liz Piercing, Advisory Board Member Mary Fox, and Forrest Prince of the Lawrenceburg McDonalds.