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 part of an understanding and supportive community.The seeds of the partnership were planted when Kim Hill, the three-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, 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 better way.” 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 of 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.