My name is Ashley Agle and one week ago was my first day as a Special Events Intern. I will be working alongside the Development Team to help execute the Handbag HULLABALOO!™ events in both Dublin and Powell. I discovered my passion for this mission during BobcaThon my freshman year. I knew from that moment I wanted to be more involved in BobcaThon and Ronald McDonald House Charities. I have spent the past two summers volunteering at the House in Akron and I have had three different positions on BobcaThon’s team. This year, I am a Co-Director of the Dance Marathon where my friend Dani and I are planning every minute of the big day. We are working on finalizing details because the Dance Marathon is just 24 short days away! Last year we raised $110,020.06 for the House and we are hoping to exceed that!
I am currently a senior studying Child and Family Studies. In a typical week, you will see me running all over campus. I am a proud Ohio University cheerleader where I get to cheer on the Bobcats at football games and men’s and women’s basketball games. I am a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity and I volunteer at various non-profits that highly impact the Athens community. I am also squeezing in as much time as I can with my friends before the bittersweet g-word happens… graduation. I have had a wonderful experience as a Bobcat!
I have dreamed of interning at the House and I am so grateful for this opportunity. Everyone has made me feel so welcomed and I look forward to every day I get to spend here. I am excited to make an impact on these families while learning as much as I can along the way!
Editor’s Note: You can support BobcaThon, which culminates with the big dance event on February 15 by clicking here. To learn more about Handbag HULLABALOO! sponsorship or tickets, click here for Dublin’s and click here for Powell’s.
For nearly two years, Paula Johnson Neal has been a volunteer at our Ronald McDonald House. She currently staffs our front desk on the first Sunday of every month and greets arriving visitors and families with her warm smile. The Sunday afternoon shift is typically the busiest check-in time for families. Professionally, Paula has worked as a teacher and preschool director for 25 years. She currently works at the YWCA of Columbus as the preschool director over the organization’s center serving children experiencing temporary homelessness. In addition to volunteering in her spare time, she enjoys zip lining and writing.
Her interest in serving children and families in their deepest times of need matches RMHC’s mission to create, find and support programs that directly improves the health and well-being of children and their families. Paula says witnessing families in distress can be heartbreaking, however, she believes the benefits of being a comforting resource outweigh it. “My employment and volunteer status reminds me that we never know what children and their families are going through. The importance of teaching kindness to all – especially children – needs to start early.”
This past June, Paula decided to combine her love of writing with her love of children by becoming a published author of a children’s book titled, “I’M GONNA HAVE A GOOD DAY!” As Paula describes it, “It’s is a multicultural children’s picture book that provides a window into a classroom involving a bully named Gabby. Gabby wants to have her kind of day at the expense of her classmates.” Fed up with Gabby’s words, “I’M GONNA HAVE A GOOD DAY,” not matching up with her actions, Gabby’s classmates take a stance. “The book’s cliffhanger provides an opportunity as a conversation starter for teachers and parents with children to discuss the importance of instilling and displaying kindness,” Paula says.
Paula points out that the urgency of the message this book carries during this critical time in our society can’t be understated. “This book is very important because children, as young as 4 years of age are experiencing some form of bullying type behavior in preschool, grade school and on the playground.” Paula goes on to say that, “Many may argue young children are learning how to socially and emotionally interact with their peers. Sadly, behaviors that are precursors to bullying and actual bullying do exist in many early childhood settings.” In addition, Paula adds, when consciously and unconsciously left unaddressed, rather than used as teachable moments, “children displaying precursor behavior and children on the receiving end may enter kindergarten socially-emotionally ill-prepared.”
Editor’s Note: Paula has chosen to further support the mission of the RMHC by donating a portion of the books proceeds during the month of January to RMHC of Central Ohio. Her book can be purchased on her website, paulajohnsonneal.com.
On Christmas morning, many folks were waking up early to prepare for excited children, (who may have already been awake), to open presents under the tree. But the Lyons Family, along with the Laube, Davies and Jones Families, were all waking up early to prepare for something different. They were headed to the Columbus Ronald McDonald House to make breakfast for families having to stay at the House. Donna Lyons says she got the idea to bring her young daughter to make the holiday morning breakfast for families after she had volunteered at the House putting up Christmas trees. That was 27 years ago. They’ve come to make breakfast every Christmas morning since then, growing the team along the way. In this video, Donna introduces the family members who served our families the morning of December 25. Thank you to these families who have made this particular meal a Christmas tradition.
Thinking of the best way to describe what the Ronald McDonald House provides families in one word can only be summed up as “relief”. Our family first became familiar with the Ronald McDonald House Charities when our twins, Grayson and Annalise, were born prematurely at 33 weeks exactly. We live in Michigan and the twins were born at Toledo Children’s Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. At the time of their unexpected birth we also had a 2-year-old daughter. One of the NICU nurses brought in an application for their Ronald McDonald House as a place for my husband and our oldest daughter, Annabella, to stay. As parents juggling the roller coaster of the NICU along with trying to maintain a sense of normal for our oldest daughter we were grateful to have this bright colorful place to just be with her. Little did we know at the time how big a part the Ronald McDonald House Charities would be in our lives.
Grayson and Annalise had a rocky first year of life with multiple hospital stays in our local children’s hospital; there was a constant back and forth between the twins of high fevers over 105 for 6-10 days, rashes, joint pain, inflammation, headaches, and poor growth. We had exhausted our local resources and our pediatrician recommended going to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for a 2nd opinion and the ability to see more extensive specialist. Our first appointment was shortly after the twins 1st birthday with Oncology/Hematology and they began to put the puzzle pieces together. Unlike most with their disease, a rare Autoinflammatory disease, we were lucky that our twins were diagnosed early at 18 months and began a lifelong treatment to minimize damage. We were travelling from Michigan to Columbus, Ohio sometimes weekly that first year as everything was sorted out. The trip for us is usually around 7 hours round trip which with small children especially when they were “flaring” is miserable for all involved. Our specialist tried to coordinate the twin’s appointments as much as possible but there were still times when we had a test on Monday and then see a specialist on a Wednesday or times when only one was admitted.
It is during these moments when we are trying to figure out how to juggle whether we should drive back and forth, get a hotel, what to do with the “healthy” siblings, that the comfort and relief of the Ronald McDonald House is indescribable. Instead of Nationwide Hospital being a place our children dread they love going “home” to see their family at the House. The house has taken the burden of worrying about mounting travel expenses off of our shoulders, the worry about packing enough to entertain two toddlers, where to go to eat, and how I am going to do laundry is erased because the house has a solution for all of that. Our family has made countless memories within the walls of the house over the past 2 years. This past trip in December was one where both twins have been very stable for the past month; seeing them climb the tree house, run around the playroom, and fined joy in the Christmas decorations of a place that truly feels as if it has some magic is something we will always cherish. As we watched them just enjoy being 3 year old’s my husband and I were discussing those many times that they didn’t have the energy to play, they physically couldn’t climb the tree house because it was too painful, and we spent hours rocking them in our room because of pain.
As parents of chronically ill children we cannot say thank you enough for all that you provide. You may not see it but the relief that this house brings to families is innumerable. In a world where our children are fighting a battle that nobody should endure you provide those much needed moments of hope, the laughter amongst tears, sweet I love you between families, and those moments where mom and dad can breath a sigh of relief and know that they are in a place where it is ok to take a deep breath and only worry about the most important thing, their family, because their family in the house will take care of everything else.
Thank you so much to everybody who tirelessly supports the Ronald McDonald Charities. Your support brings hope to families like ours.
[Columbus, OH] December 17, 2019– Celebrating Easton’s 21st year of giving, the Easton Community Foundation will partner with six community organizations for its 2020 Change for Charity program. With more than 100 applications submitted for consideration, the following six non-profits have been selected and will be featured throughout Easton over a two-month period:
The Easton Community Foundation selects six area nonprofits to highlight throughout the property so that Easton’s 30 million annual visitors are aware of each organization’s mission, community impact, and also how to access their services. In addition, the nonprofits receive a portion of the parking meter and ticket revenue to support their community efforts.
Since its debut, the Easton Community Foundation has provided over $7.5 million in financial support to hundreds of organizations that strengthen the central Ohio community through services and programming in the areas of education, health and social services. Its primary community-focused initiatives – in addition to the Change for Charity program – include Cornerstone Event fundraisers for some of central Ohio’s most respected charities, the Easton Community Foundation Scholarships for area high school students at schools including Mifflin High School, Northland High School, Fort Hayes High School, Gahanna Lincoln High School, Linden-McKinley High School and Columbus Africentric and events and partnerships benefiting the community, and local organizations.
In 2019, Easton hosted events for Ruling Our eXperiences (ROX), Pink Ribbon Girls, Boy Scouts of America, The Columbus Foundation, Buckeye Ranch, Harmony Project, Songs for Sounds and many more.
Easton has also served as a site for Canine Companion service dog training, a Pelotonia pop-up store, Salvation Army bell-ringing, and job and volunteer fairs. While Change for Charity provides a unique opportunity for six select organizations, Easton is dedicated to working with the community and creating accessible opportunities to benefit the many incredible organizations Columbus has to offer all year round.
“It is our goal at Easton to support and recognize organizations that are making a significant impact in our community, and central Ohio as a whole,” said Jennifer Peterson, Chief Executive of Easton. “We are fortunate enough to be able to do so not only through providing financial support but also by helping to raise awareness through unique opportunities here at Easton to educate community members on what important work these organizations do. Whether it’s learning about volunteer experiences available through Besa, helping to build with Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio or being inspired by a youth performance or piece of art created at The King Arts Complex, we are truly honored to be able to connect our guests with these incredible organizations.”
Each partner receives a substantial donation through Easton’s parking meter proceeds along with in-kind marketing and publicity opportunities that reach more than 30 million visitors annually.
This is a story that means so much to us here at the Ronald McDonald House this season. Knox Vehrs is home for the holidays after 423 days at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and his family stayed with us for that first year and two months of his life. Recently, his family returned from their home in Wyandot County to drop off a check for $8,400. The donation was for their stay and to pay it forward for future families needing to stay here. But what makes this story even sweeter is how his 9-yr-old cousin Paige (pictured), a member of #4h in Wyandott County, sold her calf and donated the proceeds to Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio! The community was so moved and inspired by her act of generosity, they added to the donation for a total of $4,577❗️That’s nearly $13,000 from the two families and the community altogether. Thank you. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to both families and your supporters!
Where do I even begin, my time here at RMHC has been an invaluable experience. The internship exceeded all expectations and truly touched me in ways that I never knew were possible. At this age, you go into a job thinking of how much it’ll help you and your resume, especially as a graduating senior. It only took me about a week to realize this place would be so much more than just that.
Taking 18 credit hours and working two jobs, I learned the feeling of stress and anxiety all too well this past year. The Ronald McDonald House soon became a place of comfort and ease in the midst of some of my most stressful days. Walking through these doors to a team of caring individuals and volunteers that have so graciously given their time to this mission cures a lot more than you can imagine. The impact this House has on families was made very clear on multiple occasions. On most days I sat in the lobby to get my work done and that soon became the place I experienced the most impactful moments. It was a random Wednesday and to my right, a family walked through the doors with a sigh of instant relief in their faces. I remember thinking about that moment the rest of the day. The next week I saw a family sitting together laughing in the lobby, I’ll never know the struggles that day brought prior to the laughter but I saw the House work it’s magic in giving them that moment together. Weekly, I saw dozens of volunteers walk in and out of these doors putting in time for a mission much greater than themselves. I saw this House create goodness and a love for humanity. Today as I sit here near the exit doors, I see a family with packed bags and smiling faces because they get to leave with a healthy child on their hip. Through all of these subtle moments, I saw the impact this House has made on the lives of so many. I felt the love within these walls each and every day I spent here and always left much better than I came.
The Ronald McDonald House will forever hold a place in my heart, the impact that was made through this experience will last forever. Through my trivial worries I walked into these doors with to the immense distress that families with sick children have felt, I am grateful that we have all found a place of peace within this House.
Thank you to all the families I have met, the team I have worked with and the House itself for giving me the opportunity to witness the magic that goes on inside these walls. Through my internship I learned a lot to help further my career but more importantly, I witnessed the power of love and giving.
For 16-year-old Laci, her medical journey began with back pain that wouldn’t go away. Then an ankle that didn’t appear broken, but she still felt the pain of a badly damaged ankle. Doctors back home in Huntington, West Virginia recommended Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus to find the cause of her pain. This would become a tough journey in more ways than one. It turned out Laci had a connective tissue disorder and a dysfunction of her central nervous system. With both diagnoses, bumps in the road during the trip to Columbus literally caused pain to flare up along the way. What’s worse, is Laci’s family would find themselves making the trip for weekly appointments. Click the image below to hear more from Laci’s mom, Crystal, and how thankful they are for the Ronald McDonald House.
CONTACT: RYAN WILKINS
Brand new fundraiser, the Dean’s Charity Steer Show, raises over $152,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio
COLUMBUS, OHIO – What happens when you take a dedicated group of community leaders, well-known celebrities, 4-H youth, and steers? You get one of the most successful new fundraisers in the history of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences vice president and dean, Cathann A. Kress had an idea. Over a delicious hot dog lunch with Leslie Bumgarner, President of Telhio Credit Union at Cap City Diner, they cooked up the beginning of what became the Dean’s Charity Steer Show. Months of planning and coordination, along with strong fundraising efforts, brought together a stellar team from many different areas of specialty.
Elizabeth Harsh, Executive Director of the Ohio Cattleman’s Association helped recruit some of the most talented Ohio 4-H members in the surrounding counties, all who had been working hard at raising prize steers. Each of the 4-H youth were paired with a well-known celebrity from the community, including Clark Kellogg, Clay Hall, Shelley Meyer, and Dean Kress herself. Each team was responsible to come up with a name, t-shirt design, and most importantly, raise funds to support their steer in the show.
The event itself, which took place at The Ohio State Fair, was a smashing success, filling the bleachers of the Voinovich Center. Attendees were able to visit with the steers, celebrities, and 4-H’ers, while deciding which steer they believed was the winner. The prizes awarded were Best Steer, Showmanship, and People’s Choice. After all was said and done, the event generated a whopping $152,000.
“We are so proud to have been able to partner with such a tremendous group of people for this very special event,” said Dee Anders, CEO and Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. “We are so impressed with how generous the community was for this event and look forward to another successful event in 2020.”
Plans are in the works for the second annual Dean’s Charity Steer Show to take place on August 4, 2020, once again at The Ohio State Fair. Details will be announced over the next several months, including this year’s celebrities and opportunities for sponsorship. Details will be made available at go.osu.edu/deanscharitysteershow.
We wish to thank the many generous sponsors and donors who made the event such a tremendous success. Those sponsors and donors contributing $1,000 and above include the following:
• The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences
• Telhio Credit Union
• Ohio Cattlemen’s Association
• Ohio State Fair
• Heartland Bank
• Nick Epifano
• Scott McComb
• Kress Foundation at the Columbus Foundation
• Ohio Farm Bureau
• Farm Credit Mid-America
• Juan Neves
• United Producers
• City Barbeque
• Mastek Sparkman Family Foundation
• Michael, Julie and Connor Erwin
• Juan Navas
• Mike and Leslie Bumgarner
• Fayette Veterinary Hospital
• Robert Steele
• Bill Shaffer
• CFAES Meat Sciences Program
• Gibbs Farms LLC
• Bob and Pat Wise
• Ohio Pork Council
• Ohio Poultry Council
• Todd Alexander
• Leeds Farm
• Price Farms Organics
• Catherine Clark
• Dave Sanders
• Mark Berven
• Stephen Rasmussen
• Bonnie Sutherly
• David Benfield
• Mike Estadt
• Highland County Veterinary Hospital LLC
• Lynchburg Veterinary Clinic LLC
• Virgil & Lee Hamilton
• Kim Davis Insurance Agency
• Deborah Trager
• Peterson Farms
• Susa Sherer
• Greg Trimble
• Richard Theaker
• Tim and Karen Corcoran
• Putnam County Cattlemen’s Association
• Miami Valley Feed & Grain Co. Anonymous
• Wise Show Cattle Lynne Wise
• NRC Farm In Memory of Noah Cox
• AMW Cattleman’s Association
• Hastings Mutual Insurance
How did you do with those single-digit temperatures this morning? As cold as you felt – even after getting back indoors – you can imagine it’s hard to keep warm while hooked up to an IV or PICC line with cool fluids. Some of our young guests even have to travel back and forth from the hospital with those attached.
Meg Smith of Virginia had a son, Gavin, who had trouble staying warm while battling a rare disease for 12 years. When he turned 6, Meg came up with the idea to make warm, fuzzy ponchos for kids who got cold easily because of these kind of line attachments. Wearing robes, sweaters, and jackets while inside is cumbersome and impractical with these lines attached to your body. Yet, these kind of ponchos are are easier for children with chronic illness who frequent hospitals often or for many months at a time.