The Story of Ronald McDonald House®

RMHC History

The Ronald McDonald House program started in 1974 in Philadelphia. Kim Hill, the three-year-old daughter of Philadelphia Eagles tight-end Fred Hill, was diagnosed with leukemia. Not wanting to leave their child, Hill and his wife Fran slept on hospital chairs and ate food from vending machines. They saw other parents doing the same thing as many of them had traveled great distances to bring their children to the medical facility, but the high cost of hotel rooms was prohibitive.  Hill reached out to people who could help. He rallied the support of his teammates to raise funds to help other families experiencing the same emotional and financial trauma as his own. Through the Philadelphia Eagles general manager Jim Murray, Leonard Tose, owner of the Eagles, and Ed Rensi, the McDonald’s regional manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. McDonald’s owner/operators in Philadelphia donated proceeds from the sale of Shamrock Shakes to fulfill Dr. Evans’ dream of a house that could serve as a temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital, which led to the first Ronald McDonald House.

By 1979, ten more Houses had opened. 15 years later, local communities founded more than 100 Houses. Today, RMHC has grown to over 380 chapters in 62 countries worldwide and now includes two additional core programs: Ronald McDonald Family Room® and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®.


Our Local Chapter

Ronald McDonald HouseIn the late 1980s, a community-minded group of individuals came together to raise funds to build a Ronald McDonald House near The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Spearheaded by the Frederic family, and other local McDonald’s restaurant owner/operators, the group began to raise the funds necessary to make their dream a reality.

In 1991, The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida became incorporated, and in December 1996, The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida opened its doors to children and families. In 2003, we incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and became the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest FL (RMHC SWFL).  We have continued to expand to serve families and children in our community…

  • In 2004 – We added our first Ronald McDonald Care Mobile to serve children in Collier County.
  • In 2017 – We added a second Ronald McDonald Care Mobile to serve children in Lee, Hendry, and Charlotte counties.
  • In 2017 – That same year, the Ronald McDonald Family Room opened in Golisano Children’s Hospital.
  • In 2019, the 6-bedroom House was expanded and renovated to a 12-bedroom home-away-from-home for families of critically ill children.

We are grateful for the support of a caring community, including a volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Council, local McDonald’s owner/operators, corporate sponsors, community groups, individual donors, and many wonderful volunteers.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities®

Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation that provides essential services that remove barriers, strengthen families, and promote healing when children need healthcare. RMHC helps families with sick children stay together and close to the medical care their child needs at leading hospitals worldwide. With over 380 Chapters in more than 62 countries and regions, Ronald McDonald House Charities provides access to quality healthcare and family-centered care through its core programs: Ronald McDonald House®, Ronald McDonald Family Room®, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®.