The First Ronald McDonald House
When an unlikely partnership was formed in Philadelphia in 1974 between an NFL team, a children’s hospital and a restaurant chain, none of its members could have imagined that their dream of a “home-away-from-home” for families of seriously ill children would grow to become an international phenomenon. They simply wanted to create a place where parents of sick children could be with others who understood what they were facing and could provide emotional support.
The seeds of the partnership were planted when Kim Hill, the 3-year-old daughter of Philadelphia Eagles tight end, Fred Hill, was diagnosed with leukemia. Hill and his wife camped out on hospital chairs and benches, ate food from vending machines and did all they could to keep Kim from seeing their sadness, exhaustion and frustrations.
All around them, the Hills saw other parents doing exactly the same thing. They learned that many of the families had traveled great distances to bring their children to the medical facility but the high cost of hotel rooms was prohibitive.
Hill rallied the support of his teammates to raise funds to help other families experiencing the same emotional and financial traumas as his own. Through the Philadelphia Eagles’ general manager, Jim Murray, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It was Dr. Evans’ dream for a house that could serve as temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital that led to the first Ronald McDonald House.
With the vision of Sam and Marge McCormick, operators of many McDonald's restaurants in the Columbia area, and under the leadership of Sally Bonnycastle Hardy, original board chair, the Ronald McDonald House of Columbia opened May 18, 1983.
The first Ronald McDonald Family Room opened in Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in 2003. In 2008, with the construction of the new Children’s Hospital, a new Family Room opened and serves families of children receiving care at a local medical facility.
Today, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbia, SC is an active, energetic organization with a volunteer board of directors and professional staff serving families and children through two cornerstone programs, the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room. We are supported by a caring community of volunteers and generous contributors and sponsors.