Proceeds from the “Ronald McDonald House Family Charity Fun Run & Walk” on Saturday, April 16, will benefit the organization, which provides housing and more to families of children receiving treatment for pediatric cancer.
With 84 guest rooms, Ronald McDonald House New York is one of the largest facilities of its type in the world. Families could stay at the house for any amount of time, whether it's for three months or a year, depending on their child’s treatment in the hospital.
Besides being a temporary place to stay, the facility also assists families with emotional and physical services, such as religious services and counseling, as well as recreational and educational programs.
While the house is located in Manhattan, the organization is currently expanding into the outer boroughs by creating rooms at their partner hospitals. The first room will open at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn next year.
According to James Molloy, development officer for the organization, each room will be designated as a private spot where all family members could take a break while their child is receiving treatment.
“Most parents don’t even leave the hospital when their infants are in intensive care, so they don’t really have anywhere to go besides the cafeteria,” Molloy said. “With the rooms, they can do laundry, take a shower or eat all while being within the pediatric ward the whole time."
Schools in the 26th District, including five middle schools and 21 elementary schools, will participate in the fun run as well as donate funds. The run is part of the “Kids Helping Kids” project and the schools’ involvement with the Ronald McDonald House.
Since September, all of the elementary and middle schools in the district have managed a leadership project to provide items for the facility’s “Parent Pantry” as part of its service project. They’ve also provided toiletries and snacks for welcome bags that are distributed to incoming families.
The idea originated last year during a district-wide initiative to promote leadership on all levels, said Assistant Principal Brian Anello of M.S. 74. Anello has been facilitating the student leadership project with other assistant principals in the area.
Students leaders from each school have been training in sessions regarding leadership, character-building, commitment and communication.
“This has been a student-led project, they have been doing the groundwork in terms of communication with their school communities regarding the donations and run,” Anello said. “Through this program, we hope to promote leadership and student voices through students across all of our schools."
On March 9, about 50 students and staff from the Queens schools went to visit the facility and kitchen pantry to see where their donations ended up.
According to Anello, students were impressed by the facility as well as "how nice it was to see the care being given to families of the children.”
St. John’s will host the event on their campus field. Various classes from the university, such as marketing, management and business, have been studying the event for the spring semester.
After the run, the classes will give suggestions on how the run could have been improved on for future references. Additionally, many students and staff have signed up to volunteer on the day of the event.
The event is very similar to the fun run that the organization has hosted in Central Park for the last 17 years. Participants will run or walk in competitions ranging from 220 yards to one mile. In the early afternoon, there will be a general family walk around the field. Anyone four years and up can participate.
Saturday's activities will kick off at 9 a.m. For more information and to register, visit rmh-newyork.org. Following this week's run, Molloy says that the organization is hoping to hold similar events in each borough.