Bikers Roll Out in Support of Ronald McDonald House

Most of us are aware of the Ronald McDonald houses. The very first one was called ‘the house that love built’ and opened in Philadelphia in 1974. Eagle’s football player Fred Hill had a daughter Kim being treated for leukemia at that time. Spending days and nights on waiting room benches for three years and seeing other parents going through the same situation, many unable to afford hotel rooms, Hill and his wife felt there had to be a better way.

With the help of donations from the local McDonald’s restaurant and his teammates, Hill made the first Ronald McDonald House possible. The charities group for the project was formed in 1984 in memory of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, well known as a strong advocate for children.

 The first European Ronald McDonald House (RMH) opened in Amsterdam in 1985 and soon there were 88 of these homes worldwide. By the following year, the 100th RMH opened, this one in New York. Scholarships were soon being awarded to graduating high school seniors and an Award of Excellence for the founder of Head Start. By 1987 millions of dollars had been raised, a recycling program established, grants received and endowment gifts given to each RMH in the United States.

In the year 1994 RM houses opened in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, bringing the total number of houses to 164 in 12 countries and increasing to 200 houses just six years later. This charity was voted one of ‘America’s 100 Best Charities of 2002’ for the second year in a row. With the donation of $60 million dollars by the widow of Mr. Kroc, 20 more family rooms opened bringing that number to 80 rooms in 10 countries. And here we are in 2012 with 309 RM houses in 52 countries, 44 RM care mobiles and 161 RM family rooms. The little girl who inspired all this, the football player’s daughter, passed away at the age of 44, but not before she saw the good that came from her illness.

Now the RMH charity has come to Fairfield County and Richland County. On June 9, more than 150 motorcycle riders travelled 72 miles in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities. This was the 11th annual charity ride called ‘RIDN 4 RNLD.’ The ride began and ended at Thunder Tower Harley-Davidson. The first bikers left at 11 a.m. with the last group leaving at noon. Refreshment stops were made a Gadget’s in Lugoff, Yesteryear’s restaurant in Ridgeway, Scottie’s Café & Grill in Blythewood and Darrell’s Place in Columbia. We went to Scottie’s to greet and speak to the riders. They were staggered in their arrival, several groups coming in at different times. They were hot and thirsty and enjoyed the stop-over at Scottie’s cool café for a drink and to get out of the 91-degree heat.

When the riders returned to the Thunder Tower they enjoyed food, beverages, live entertainment, a raffle, prize drawings and gift certificates. The participants paid a fee of $20 for riders and $10 for passengers and all proceeds went directly to benefit RMH Charities. More than 350 families are helped through the program. These families are seeking shelter and solace during stressful times. RMH provides these families a safe and caring home-away-from-home so they can be close to their hospitalized child.

If you missed this event, please watch for Lights of Hope in July; Sam’s Fine Wine & Spirits Tasting, Sept. 14; Gala & Golf, Oct. 4 – 5; Lake Carolina Wine & Food Festival, Oct. 13; McHappy Day, Nov. 20 and On Angel’s Wings in December. As Jennifer Kresslein, Development Director, said, “We truly appreciate the support from the biker community as it is because of fundraising events like RIDN 4 RNDL that we are able to continue providing the highest level of care and comfort for families of critically ill and injured children through our cornerstone programs, the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room.”

God bless the 150-plus bikers, the four restaurant owners and those who turned out to show support for the riders as they raised money for this worthy cause.