Though the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) of Indiana is a separate organization from Riley Children’s Hospital, they still have an extremely close partnership and work together on a daily basis. Just as their mission states, the RMH was built around the idea that “children who are seriously ill need family by their side”. The idea for a RMH in Indianapolis began in April 1980 and by December, Indiana University had announced their plans to build the house on land donated by IU. The house opened its doors in 1982 with 24 bedrooms and by 1989 the south wing had been added giving the RMH of Indiana a total of 46 bedrooms and 6 apartments. Again, in 2004 the RMH of Indiana expanded by opening a second location inside Riley Children’s Hospital. This smaller home is used for families with children in critical care. To be placed in the RMH inside of Riley, both volunteers at the RMH and social workers at Riley must communicate daily to determine which families need the rooms the most.
When visiting both RMH locations there is a sense of love provided by workers, volunteers, and families. As one can imagine, having a sick child is one of life’s toughest challenges, but these families are what turn this house into a home. The RMH is proud to have served over 35,000 families from all over Indiana, other states, and even international families. Though it costs about $80 a night per family, no family is ever turned away because of a financial situation. Many families who have stayed at the RMH often spend their time and love giving back. Mark Imel, a former houseguest of the RMH, spent 5 weeks in the hospital with his son who suffered from spina bifida Mr. Imel states, “[The Ronald McDonald House] became our home away from home.” A year after Mr. Imel’s son passed away he decided it was time for him to give back, and now he spends every other Saturday donating his time and love to the Ronald McDonald House. In Mr. Imel’s words, “this helps me heal.”
To go from a house to a home there must be compassion, strength, and most importantly love. What we do as IU Dance Marathon may not be directly linked to the Ronald McDonald House, but we can find the compassion, strength, and love within our Riley families to give us the determination to make a difference. From IUDM to the Ronald McDonald House it is always FTK!
By: Erika Burghardt