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