HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The First Ronald McDonald House
It all began in Philadelphia in 1974 when 3-year-old Kim Hill, the daughter of Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill and his wife, Fran, was being treated for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.
During Kim’s three years of treatment, the Hills often camped out on hospital chairs and benches and ate makeshift meals out of vending machines while they watched other parents doing the same thing. They learned that many of the families traveled great distances to bring their children to the medical facility but couldn’t afford hotel rooms.
A Better Way
The Hills knew that there had to be a solution. Fred rallied the support of his Eagles teammates to raise funds. Through Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Evans dreamed of a comfortable temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital.
Murray enlisted Don Tuckerman from the local McDonald’s advertising agency, who with the support of McDonald’s Regional Manager Ed Rensi, launched the St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake (now known as the Shamrock Shake) promotion. Funds raised went towards purchasing an old house located near the hospital.
Thus, the first Ronald McDonald House came to be in Philadelphia in 1974 – a “Home away from Home” for families of seriously ill children. By 1979, 10 more Houses opened. By 1984, local communities founded 60 more Houses; then 53 more opened by 1989. Today more than 300 Ronald McDonald House programs in 30 countries and regions support families around the world each and every night.