In 1969, former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Fred was driven to “do something”—so he rallied the Eagles, the Philadelphia McDonald's owners, and the Philadelphia community to build the first Ronald McDonald House, which opened in 1974. Since then, many other communities have followed suit, recognizing this same need in their own area. Today, there are more than 307 Houses throughout the United States and 30 countries and regions around the world. Learn more about Ronald McDonald Houses internationally at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Website.
In 1985, inspired by the impact of these Ronald McDonald Houses, McDonald's owner/operators in the Rochester area approached Strong Memorial Hospital regarding opening a Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. The hospital supported the proposal, and the University of Rochester donated the building site. With local McDonald's operators’ initial pledge of $250,000 and a seed grant of $25,000 from McDonald’s Corporation, the capital campaign was off to a strong start. The first fundraiser was a Shamrock Shake campaign. Many others in the Rochester area stepped up to provide the $1.3 million and the volunteer support needed to open the doors to the 128th "Home Away From Home" in February 1990. Since then we have provided a haven for more than 10,000 families traveling to Rochester for their child’s specialized medical care.
In 1996, the Rochester Ronald McDonald House merged with the local chapter of Ronald McDonald Children's Charities. United as Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, NY, we have the power to extend our reach to thousands of children in the greater Rochester community who benefit from programs and services provided by children’s charities supported through our grants program. In 2005, we further expanded our continuum of care by opening our "House Within The Hospital." Located atop the state-of-the-art Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, our 4,000 square foot House provides proximate respite and support for families just 60 seconds away from their critically ill or injured child. This unique, on-site haven allows us to serve more families than ever before.