Our story is a story of growth and change. We started with a 17 guest room House and have expanded to a 50 guest room House and now operate 2 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms where families can rest, gather strength, and find some comfort during very difficult times.
1980’s: We Care Delaware formed
In 1986, a board of concerned citizens, medical professionals, and McDonald’s owner/operators joined forces and formed We Care in Delaware. Len and Dora Dukart, who opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in Delaware, were the driving force behind the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.
1991: Ronald McDonald House of Delaware opened its doors with 17 guest rooms
Our doors opened on June 7, 1991. The Ronald McDonald House is located on Rockland Road across from Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware. The House opened with 17 guest rooms for families, a living room, kitchen, dining room, recreation room with video games, ping pong, TV room, and a three-bedroom apartment for the Resident Manager.
1998: First Ronald McDonald Family Room opened
In 1998 the House expanded its programs and we opened a Ronald McDonald Family Room, one of the first in the country, at Christiana Care next to the Special Care Nursery. A Ronald McDonald Family Room is an area set aside in a medical facility serving pediatric patients and is intended to serve as a quiet rest area for family members. It replicates the home-like atmosphere of the Ronald McDonald House and brings it to the hospital setting.
1999: Mini-expansion added 10 guest rooms on the third floor of the House
The House had a “mini” expansion adding 10 guest rooms and a sunroom in memory of Dora Dukart. The House also finished the basement and built a covered entranceway.
2000: Our third Ronald McDonald Family Room opened next to the cafeteria of Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware
The room had computers for families to use and a respite area that allowed them to escape the hustle and bustle of the hospital setting.
2005: The House opened its new 23,000 square foot addition and added 23 guest rooms allowing us to serve 50 families every night
On November 13, 2003, the House held a groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction of the new wing. A capital campaign, Imagine… Building Hope One Brick at Time was undertaken and raised in excess of $5.8m to build the new guest rooms, new kitchen, dining room, 25 seat mini-theater, beauty salon, and other common areas. On May 5, 2005, the new wing officially opened.
2008: The Ronald McDonald Family Room at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware reopened on the third floor
The Ronald McDonald Family Room relocated in conjunction with the opening of the Family Resource Center on the third floor. Our room now includes 3 overnight sleep rooms for the families of the most critically ill children that need to be steps away from their children’s bedside.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities
The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware is part of a global charity, Ronald McDonald House Charities. The roots of this global charity are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
How it all started
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 wanted to create a place where parents of sick children could be with others who understood each others’ situations 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 frustration.
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. They continued to think, “there has to be a happy medium.”
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 a temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital that led to the first Ronald McDonald House.
The Eagles enlisted the help of their McDonald’s restaurants to raise money for the first-ever House. In October 1974, the Philadelphia House opened bearing the name of Ronald McDonald.
How it grew!
By 1979, 10 more Ronald McDonald Houses had opened. In the next five years, local communities founded 60 more Houses; then 53 more opened in the next five years. Across the country and throughout the world, people viewed Ronald McDonald House as a way for a community to band together for their neighbors in need of comfort and security during a particularly difficult time.
Currently, there are 377 Ronald McDonald House programs in 45 countries and regions. All Houses have the same basic mission but vary in size, facility, and services. All are sustained through local donations and each House is independently owned and operated.
Additional programs beyond the Houses
The Ronald McDonald House programs have expanded other programs to serve children. Ronald McDonald House Charities funds grants to benefit children’s charities and programs. The Ronald McDonald Family Room extends the comfort of a Ronald McDonald House to a hospital setting; typically located just steps away from neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, the Ronald McDonald Family Room provides a place to escape the stress and tension of the Hospital. Ronald McDonald Care Mobile provides access to health care for underserved children. See www.rmhc.org for more information about how this Global charity has expanded to serve the needs of children.