A global mission rooted in local compassion

February 23rd, 2023 | News

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia, PA in 1974 after an unlikely trio recognized the need for parents to stay close to their hospitalized child (learn more about our Global history in March Heartline). As more programs opened around the world, it became clear that caring for the family of a sick child was as important as caring for the child.

That was the beginning of our unique role as a children’s charity supporting and facilitating family-centered care. There are now 383 Ronald McDonald House programs worldwide that are conveniently located near major pediatric hospitals allowing parents to stay close to their hospitalized child and the comforts of home without incurring hotel and food costs.

In 1993, the Ronald McDonald House in Madison was born out of an enormous outpouring of community support for the mission. A dedicated and generous group of people – many of who continue to be involved today – had a vision for a place in Madison where families could stay together near their sick child without financial hardship. That year, the 17-bedroom House served 289 families.

In 2003, RMHC-Madison launched its Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program bringing fundamental medical and dental care to underserved communities. Today, the Care Mobile operates in partnership with Mercyhealth to provide 450+ annual physical exams and vaccinations to underserved families in Northern Illinois.

In 2012, RMHC-Madison added another core program opening a Ronald McDonald Family Room at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. The Family Room offers respite for nearly 250 families with newborns in intensive care and pediatrics each year.

As Madison’s medical care became increasingly sought-after and with projected additional growth of referring hospitals, RMHC-Madison began to see more of a need for services due to the increase in pediatric specialties and expanded medical facilities.

In 2019, the original Madison Ronald McDonald House was renovated and expanded with the Building on Hope Capital Campaign. The House nearly doubled in size and now features 31 guest bedrooms, expanded communal areas, and additional kitchens to accommodate both family needs and meal program volunteers. Last year, the House provided 11,000 overnight stays for families coming to Madison for their child’s critical medical care.

Over the years, we have grown and adapted as the needs of our families have changed. Each program addition allows us to provide all the comforts of home for the families we serve.