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Health

Capital Campaign Launched For New Ronald McDonald House In Wichita

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Ronald McDonald House Charities Wichita Facebook
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Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Wichita has launched a capital campaign to finance the renovation of a new 20-bedroom location directly across the street from Wesley Children's Hospital. Ronald McDonald House Charities is a nonprofit that offers free lodging for the families of children who are hospitalized.

The campaign has a goal of around $3 million, which will be used to renovate the first and second floors of the Health Strategies building on North Hillside. The location will serve as a replacement for the two existing Ronald McDonald houses in Wichita.

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Credit Ronald McDonald House Charities.
One of the existing Ronald McDonald Houses located in Wichita's midtown.

The campaign will be helped by a $100,000 grant from the Gerry Newman McTLC Award of Excellence given to local McDonald's franchisee Bob Lane. The annual award, which is named for one of the charity's founders and its first president, honors McDonald's owners/operators worldwide who have stood out for their efforts on behalf of children. As a volunteer for RMHC, Lane lead the effort to build the first two Ronald McDonald Houses in Wichita.

According to a press release from the organization, Lane's fundraising efforts gained momentum when he led a team of his fellow owner/operators and McDonald's staff in hosting the fourth annual McDonald's All-American Basketball Tournament at Wichita State University in 1981. The event featured then high school seniors Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing and raised more money for RMHC than the three previous tournaments combined.

Susan Smythe, CEO and executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities Wichita, says Lane plans to match the $100,000 grant with his own money. 

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Credit Ronald McDonald House Charities.
One of the existing Ronald McDonald Houses located in Sleepy Hollow in Wichita.

The existing Wichita locations, which have 10 rooms each, have served more than 55,000 families to date. Smythe says one of the homes was built in 1900, and though it was renovated in 1982, the rooms and bathrooms are still very small.

The other location is three miles away from the pediatric care locations centralized by Wesley Children's Hospital.

"If you've just traveled from Liberal, [three miles] doesn't seem like much, but it is when you want to see your baby in the hospital at 2 in the morning," Smythe says.

In order to use a room at a Ronald McDonald House, Smythe says families have to live at least 30 miles away. In addition to helping the families of children who are hospitalized, the charity also serves women with high-risk pregnancies who need to be close to the hospital. 

The planned location will have a walkway straight into the hospital's NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit. Architectural drawings are still in the works, but Smythe says the new Ronald McDonald House will be an estimated 20,000 square feet and provide 20 new bedrooms for families in need.

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Follow Abigail Beckman on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.