Founded in 1984, our Ronald McDonald House (RMH) began with 19 guest rooms in the old medical center building on 550 South First Street in Louisville, KY. As the need grew, so did we. In 2003, we expanded our Ronald McDonald House to 29 rooms, and we expanded again in 2009, this time to 36 guest rooms, each accommodating up to four people. The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana is to provide a “home away from home” for families of children receiving healthcare at area medical facilities while also lending support to other organizations who aid children.
In 1992, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana helped to pioneer one of the first Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in the world – a smaller version of Ronald McDonald House located inside a hospital that puts parents steps from their seriously ill child. We also have Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in three Louisville hospitals – Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Norton Children’s Hospital and Frazier Rehab Institute.
History of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana
In 1981, Christine Rounsavall, the infant daughter of Jef Conner and Hunt Rounsavall, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as neuroblastoma. During Christine’s long, and eventually successful, hospital stay, her parents observed that many other parents of critically ill children, who had traveled far from home, had no place to sleep at night. It was not uncommon for Jef and Hunt to see families sleeping in the halls of the hospital to be near their children because there were no affordable options. Christine’s oncologist, Dr. Sal Bertolone, had the same observations and was interested in addressing this problem.
During that same period of Christine’s illness, Jef came across a Reader’s Digest article about an organization known as the Ronald McDonald House which had recently opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Deciding that this was the type of organization that our community needed, Jef, Hunt and Dr. Bertolone went to work to establish a Ronald McDonald House in Louisville, Kentucky.
After years of fundraising and countless public awareness campaigns, the Kentuckiana community opened the Ronald McDonald House in Louisville on September 10, 1984. The building at 550 South First Street was completely renovated through the efforts of volunteers, community partners and generous donations from the McDonald’s restaurants throughout the region.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana Timeline
1984 Ronald McDonald House opens in Louisville, Kentucky.
1994 First Ronald McDonald Family Room opens at Kosair Children’s Hospital, which includes a living room, kitchenette, and sleeping room to house up to eight people at a time.
1996 Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana is formed by combining Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, and Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities of Kentuckiana, a grant making program for organizations benefiting children.
2001 Fundraising campaign begins for the expansion of Ronald McDonald House due to the growing need for a place for families of critically ill children to stay.
2003 Third floor expansion opens, increasing the number of families served by 60%.
2005 RMHCK purchases the building (Ronald McDonald House) it formerly leased.
2006 Ronald McDonald Family Room opens at Norton Suburban Hospital.
2007 Ronald McDonald Family Room opens at Frazier Rehab Institute.
2009 Fourth floor expansion project completed, increasing the number of rooms to 36, including two immuno-suppressed suites.