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Ronald McDonald House® Program Celebrates 30 Years of Helping Children and Families Smile Again

First-Ever 'Home-Away-From-Home' for Families With Seriously Ill Children Reaches Important Milestone with 240 Houses in 24 Countries

Oct 5, 2004

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the first Ronald McDonald House, which opened its doors on October 15, 1974, to provide temporary lodging for families with children receiving medical treatment at nearby hospitals. What began with one House in Philadelphia, PA, has now expanded, due to the dedication of Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) and the need of families worldwide, to 240 House programs in 24 countries. There are currently 152 Ronald McDonald Houses in the United States. Approximately 20 new Houses are scheduled to open in 2005 worldwide.

The Ronald McDonald House program was developed as the result of the perseverance of Fred Hill, a former Philadelphia Eagles football player. After his three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the local children's hospital and there was no place to rest except for hospital waiting room chairs, Hill became determined to help other families faced with the same situation. Very few institutions at that time provided sufficient accommodations for such families, and Dr. Audrey Evans, a pediatric oncologist at the hospital, suggested that a "home-away-from-home" was needed. Hill enlisted the help of his teammates and Jim Murray, then general manager of the Eagles, who worked with the local McDonald's® restaurant owner/operators to raise funds to purchase and renovate the first House.

"I am so proud to witness the expansion of the Ronald McDonald House program 30 years later from when we started. My family and I are so honored to be part of this celebration, knowing that we helped make a difference in countless lives," said Fred Hill, co-founder of the first Ronald McDonald House. "Thanks to the continued support of Ronald McDonald House Charities, we've turned a dream into a reality for millions of families and children."

Actress, model and mom Brooke Shields has teamed up with Ronald McDonald House Charities to serve as ambassador. "I recently spent time with children at the Ronald McDonald House of New York, and was in awe of their courage and spirit," said Shields. "The Ronald McDonald House truly is a home-away-from-home for these families. I'm honored to be a part of such a wonderful Charity. I want to help and let others know how to get involved."

To date, Ronald McDonald Houses have provided more than 10 million families with temporary residences near medical facilities where their children are receiving medical treatment for serious health issues such as cancer, heart disease, organ transplants, neonatal complications, and major accidents.

The Houses provide comfort in difficult times and allow family members to sleep, eat, relax, find support and simply smile again. In return, families are asked to make a donation ranging from $5 to $20 per day, and if that is not possible, their stay is free. More than 30,000 volunteers help support the Houses worldwide.

In addition to the Ronald McDonald Houses, RMHC programs include the Ronald McDonald Family Room™, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile™ -- extending the reach of the Charity to directly improve the health and well-being of children in neighborhoods around the world.

"The programs provided by Ronald McDonald House Charities are unlike any others, and it is with much pride that we celebrate 30 years of the Ronald McDonald House program where it all began," said Ken Barun, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities and Senior Vice President, McDonald's Corporation. "When you look at all the millions of families that have been touched by Ronald McDonald House Charities, there is no arguing that there is a strong need for the support RMHC offers to children and families everywhere."

About Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a non-profit, 501(c)3, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. Its programs are grassroots-driven to enable the Charity to offer help where children need it most, right in their own communities. RMHC fulfills its mission by creating programs that address targeted needs, and by supporting these programs through its global network of more than 180 local Chapters in nearly 50 countries.

RMHC and its local Chapters have awarded more than $400 million in grants and program services to children's organizations around the world. For more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities and its programs, visit and .

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SOURCE: Ronald McDonald House Charities

CONTACT: Michon Ellis, +1-630-623-4061, or Palmer Moody,
+1-630-623-5372, both of Ronald McDonald House Charities

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