20 years ago in 1993 a local Central Coast mother was staying at Ronald McDonald House with her sick son when the Manager suggested she start a 'volunteer fundraising group' on the Central Coast to help other parents with their accommodation bills. These families all have seriously ill children with prolonged illness (a very large proportion are cancer patients, others with organ transplants and premature babies with life threatening health issues.
Not everyone is aware that there is a $33/night fee to stay at the Ronald McDonald Houses. As an example, following a bone marrow transplant a child needs to be isolated for some 6 weeks before returning home to the Central Coast. Bills for thousands of dollars would financially ruin young families. Central Coast families do not qualify for any government assistance as only families more than 100 kms away from the treating hospital are eligible.
Our group of volunteers is very small with just 14 members. Last financial year with their hard work of fundraising and with the generous support of the people of the Central Coast we were able to pay accounts for 190 local families so that they could be close to their seriously ill child. The total for these bills was some $257,412.46 and to date this financial year we have assisted 211 families and paid out some $227,315.55 involving the Ronald McDonald Houses and Parent Hostel Rooms at Westmead (Children's Hospital), Randwick (Sydney Children's Hospital) and Newcastle (John Hunter Hospital) and Hope Cottage Penrith and on occasions parent hostel at Royal North Shore Hospital. We have also reimbursed petrol costs for parents needing to travel each day due to other family commitments. Specialised equipment for quality of life has also been contributed to in special circumstances by our group.
The first Ronald McDonald House was built in the U.S.A. in 1970's by the efforts of a family of a 3 year old girl with leukaemia - the parents approached the Ronald McDonald company who sponsored that "first" House (with profits from a Thick Shake promotion!) - the funds raised on McHappy Day across the world builds-the-Houses, but then a volunteer Board has to run the management, hence the need to charge $33/night/room in Australia. There are now 11 Ronald McDonald Houses in Australia.
We hope to continue this fundraising to keep our local families together during their time of crisis.
We strive to make these children's lives as happy as we can.
We would appreciate your support.