Our History

Co-Founder Dr Audrey Evans Ronald McDonald House Charities
Dr. Audrey Evans

The Story of Ronald McDonald House®

Dr. Audrey Evans was chief of pediatric oncology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the 1970s. She watched families spend countless nights sleeping in hospital waiting rooms, eating vending machine meals, while their children received medical treatment. Dr. Evans knew there had to be a better way and envisioned a house where families could stay during these uncertain times.

Simultaneously, the Philadelphia Eagles were rallying support for player Fred Hill, whose daughter, Kim, was battling leukemia. As the Hills spent more time at the hospital, they, too, realized their lack of comfort and support was a shared experience. Some families traveled great distances to receive medical treatment and simply could not afford to stay at nearby hotels. Through this effort, Eagles’ General Manager Jimmy Murray met Dr. Audrey Evans and, learning of her vision, became a staunch champion for the cause.

McDonald’s regional ad agency was approached with an idea: to use proceeds from Shamrock Shakes to benefit the new house. Recognizing the potential impact, they wholeheartedly agreed, and on October 15, 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in Philadelphia. Thanks to the generosity of dedicated donors, the Ronald McDonald House has grown into a global model with more than 260 chapters in 62 countries. RMHC-Madison was born in 1993, with many founding families still deeply committed to the mission.

McDonald’s remains our founding and forever mission partner. In Madison, local McDonald’s owner/operators support about 18% of our chapter through RoundUp for RMHC, canister donations, proceeds from Happy Meals, wish list drives, annual gifts, and sponsorships.

As Dr. Evans imagined, “RMHC seeks always to put families first. Always raise the bar. Always strive for more. Whatever we create we make it feel comforting and hopeful.” She would want us to follow a compass of caring, and so we do.

Click to learn more about RMHC or Dr. Audrey Evans.