Mission and History

Providing a “home-away-from-home” since 1984.

Our Mission

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana is to provide the home and support that allows families to stay together while they focus on the healing of their sick children at a critical time.

Our History

The Louisville Ronald McDonald House

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.

Community in front of House, 1984

The House That Love Built

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.

Our Ronald McDonald House (RMH) began with 19 guestrooms. As the need grew, so did we. In 2003, we expanded to 29 guestrooms, and we expanded again in 2009, this time to 36 guestrooms, each accommodating up to four people. Our latest expansion, completed in 2020, took us to 56 guestrooms.

Ronald McDonald Family Room Programs

In 1992, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana helped to pioneer one of the first Ronald McDonald Family Room Programs in the world – a smaller version of Ronald McDonald House located inside a hospital that puts parents steps from their child. We currently have Ronald McDonald Family Room Programs in three Louisville hospitals – Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Norton Children’s Hospital, and Frazier Rehab Institute.

Ronald McDonald House
The First House

It all began in Philadelphia in 1974 when three-year-old Kim Hill — daughter of Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill and his wife, Fran — was being treated for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

During Kim’s three years of treatment, the Hills often camped out on hospital chairs and benches and ate makeshift meals out of vending machines, all while watching other parents do the same. They learned that many families traveled great distances to bring their children to the medical facility and couldn’t afford hotel rooms.

The Hills knew there had to be a better way. Fred rallied the support of his Eagles teammates to raise funds. Through Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Evans dreamed of a comfortable temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital.

Murray enlisted Don Tuckerman from the local McDonald’s advertising agency, who with the support of McDonald’s Regional Manager Ed Rensi, launched the St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake (now known as the Shamrock Shake) promotion. Funds raised went toward purchasing an old house located near the hospital. And, thus, the first Ronald McDonald House came to be.

Our Founding Mission Partner

We are McDonald’s “charity of choice.” Portions of our annual operating costs are graciously funded by McDonald’s and owner/operators of local McDonald’s restaurants in the Kentuckiana area.  The remainder of our annual operating income comes from the generosity of individual, corporate, and foundation donors.

RMHC Donation Box at McDonald's

McDonald’s involvement with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana extends far beyond monetary support:

  • Members of the McDonald’s family are dedicated volunteers and serve on the Board and committees of our House, as well as serving as Adopt-A-Meal volunteers.
  • McDonald’s partners with RMHCK for promotional and fundraising events, including supporting our Red Tie Gala as our Presenting Sponsor.
  • RMHC Donation Boxes are hosted in restaurants and enable McDonald’s customers to support the House by donating change in the canisters.
  • McDonald’s offers its customers the ability to Round-Up for RMHC. Customers can round their order total up to the nearest whole dollar as a donation to RMHCK.
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