By Barb Matta
The Coaches’ Charity Challenge is something that has been near and dear to our hearts for the past three years. With this wonderful contest, Thad, alongside The Ohio State University Basketball team, the entire OSU Athletic Department, and the central Ohio community has come together to support one single cause: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
The outpouring of love and support RMHC of Central Ohio receives through this contest is incredible. The Coaches’ Charity Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for the community to see the heart of what truly matters to our family—helping keep families together while their children are being treated at central Ohio hospitals.
Thad and I have two daughters of our own, and we cannot fathom what we would do if one of the girls became extremely ill, or how we would try to maintain some sense of normalcy. Fortunately, this is where RMHC of Central Ohio steps in for families. The House provides an oasis in the midst of chaos. At the House, families have a chance to eat a home-cooked meal, do their laundry, and watch movies in the in-home theatre—these are only some of the options. The House provides a sense of stability for families while their lives are turned completely upside down. The volunteers and staff are care about each family that comes through the doors. This home captures and embodies the true spirit of love in every sense of the word.
For our family, the Coaches’ Charity Challenge is not just another contest, but a way to keep families together when they need it most. If we are able to win again, this contest will earn RMHC of Central Ohio $100,000, which translates to 5,000 nights of rest for families of seriously-ill children. For the past two years, RMHC has been fortunate to win with the support of the community, and we are in it to win it for a three-peat!
The Coaches’ Charity Challenge evokes a sense of competition that is felt both on and off the court. Thad knows he is fortunate enough to have the backing and support of so many community members voting every day for him on behalf of RMHC of Central Ohio.
The ball is in your court—we hope you will vote with us for the rest of the contest to help support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, who really needs our support as they are adding an exciting 42 room expansion, which will make the Columbus location the largest House in the world. You can vote every day at VoteCoachMatta.com. Your daily vote helps provide a respite for the families at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, so they can focus on what truly matters—helping their children heal.
By Sean Murray, Membership Committee Chair of the Red Shoe Society, Group of Young Professionals
Years ago, when I was a youngster, McDonald’s ran a commercial featuring Ronald McDonald and other characters with a catchy song I still remember to this day. The song begins with Ronald singing When you believe in magic, and I hope you do, you’ll always have a friend wearing big red shoes. I actually forgot about that song until 2011 when I visited the Columbus Ronald McDonald House for the very first time to volunteer with my team at work.
I was new to the Columbus area and looking for ways to volunteer and new friends to make. My group toured the House and did our volunteer work. I was touched by how much the staff and volunteers do for the families of seriously ill children. At the very end of my trip to the House, I was informed of a group of young professionals whose sole purpose was coming together to assist at the Ronald McDonald House. I asked for information and sent an email, which ended up being one of the best decisions I have made in my life!
Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to the most talented, dedicated and fun-loving group of people I have ever met, the Red Shoe Society. Everyone was welcoming and wanted to get to know me. I volunteered for one of the bigger fundraisers, Dig it For the House, and had an absolute blast. If there’s such a thing as “fun in the sun” in Columbus, Ohio, this event is definitely it! I met the tournament organizer, Bill, and through his energetic and positive leadership, the event had its most successful turnout (and topped that this year). I met Tony, the president of the Red Shoe Society at the time, whose team made it a goal to raise the most funds for the event so they could enjoy the day in the “VIP” lounge. I met Jamie, whose tireless work and seemingly endless hours coordinating with the group during meetings and events really helps keep everything running smoothly.
Since then, I have helped plan membership events, volunteered with the Red Shoe Society to make breakfast for families at the Ronald McDonald House, as well as other fundraising events for the House. I have gotten together to hang out with group members as friends. I can think of no better way to spend my free time than with this group and helping the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. Everyone has so much fun and projects are undertaken with a love and passion for giving back that is difficult to describe.
These people, and the many others I have met over the past few years at Red Shoe Society events, are people I am honored to call my friends. Through hard work, determination, hours of planning, members of the Red Shoe Society truly do make magic happen for Ronald McDonald House and I am proud to call myself a member. If I wasn’t a believer in magic before I became involved with the Red Shoe Society, I am a believer now!
by Mackenzie Schuler
For many of us, getting Thirty-One Gifts products is something we look forward to whenever a new catalog comes out, looking at all of the new prints, and debating over which product we want to choose. For families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, having free time to pour over prints is not something they have the time for—they are focused on helping their child heal at one of our area hospitals. However, families staying at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House are being exposed to all of the wonderful ways Thirty-One Gifts is giving back to RMHC—their organization really is the gift that keeps on giving! I want to take a moment to highlight some of the great ways this organization is helping Ronald McDonald House Charities.
By having the generosity of Thirty-One Gifts, we are able to continue on with our mission of serving families of seriously-ill children in central Ohio. They truly understand and empathize with what the families are going through, and go above and beyond the call of duty to help our families each and every day at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. We are so grateful for all of the support Thirty-One Gifts provides to us here at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. Their support is a gift that is unmatched!
by Dee Anders
We all fell in love with the special patient stars in the 2013 Nationwide Children’s Hospital holiday commercial. All of those children wanted to be home for the holidays with their families. If you can’t be home for the holidays, the Columbus Ronald McDonald House is the next best place to be. The holidays are a magical time at the Ronald McDonald House, the outpouring of love and compassion is amazing. The House reminds you just how caring and good people are in this community.
Now, we look forward to an exciting 2014, a year of growth and change here at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House. We look forward to welcoming new volunteers, new staff members, new rooms, new homes, new families, and new friends. However, one thing that will not change is starting the year off with the Vote Matta Campaign! You can vote every day for the next 10 weeks. Coach Matta and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio are up for the challenge to defend their two-year reigning title, and we are hoping for a three-peat! So please take some time today to vote for Coach Matta and the Columbus Ronald McDonald House at VoteCoachMatta.com. Every vote matters, and helps keep families of seriously-ill children only footsteps away.
by Kate Ziegler
I manage the Volunteer Program at the Ronald McDonald House, and feel so fortunate to work the volunteers who make the house a Home for over 3,000 families each year. My relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio began two and a half years ago when having extra free time prompted me to start volunteering. I was taking a tour of the House as part of the volunteer orientation process and couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that over 300 regular volunteers run the 80 bedroom house with the support of only 12 full-time staff members. I realized during that first tour of the House that I was witnessing something magical.
The Ronald McDonald House embodies the philanthropic spirit of our community members. The families who stay at the House are far away from their own communities while they dealing with the stresses of having an ill child. The moment these families walk through our doors, they are surrounded by volunteers who want to make their day a little easier. A previous guest of the Ronald McDonald House put her experience with us into words:
“I am a mom of a special child. I am always caring for my daughter’s needs and I run a household. STRESS! For the first time in almost eight years, I don’t feel that stress. Here at the Ronald McDonald House, you take it all away. It’s quite a place. I can think, rest, and breathe. You have done so much for us I can never say ‘thank you’ enough. I feel so at home and cared for. I know I am not alone. It feels very nice to be cared for. Your kindness and love will stay with us (me) always. You have touched our lives in ways you will never know. Please keep caring, loving, providing and support each family the same way you have done for my family. I will be forever grateful to each and every one here at the Ronald McDonald House.”
Each and every day, my spirit is renewed by the people who volunteer at the Columbus Ohio Ronald McDonald House. By coming together and donating their time, our volunteers form a community around these families that are so far from home. I am so excited to see the kindness, love and support our volunteers will continue to give to our families as our Ronald McDonald House grows.
Working at the Ronald McDonald House has strengthened my love of my own community and I am so grateful to be surrounded by these wonderful people!
by Angie Hartley
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to forget the little things. Often we may take them for granted because they have always been there, but what happens when they no longer are?
Sometimes it’s the little things that are most important to our families. It’s a warm meal, clean clothes, comfortable bed, and friendly smile to help you get through the hard times. This is all made possible through the generosity of our community.
Each year we ask our the community to support the Ronald McDonald House any way they can, and each year I hear people say, “I know what I’m doing isn’t a lot, but I want to help.” What they don’t realize is they are helping in a big way! You don’t have to be a doctor, fireman, or superhero to make a significant difference in someone’s life. You just have to have the passion to give back however you can. For some, it may be through monetary or in-kind donations, and for others it may be through their time and talents, but for our families, your support means the world to them.
For nearly four years, I have had the privilege to work as the Development Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. I know how important the Ronald McDonald House is to families of seriously-ill children and I have seen first-hand how generous our community is. Each day, we have volunteers who spend their time in the evening supporting our families after a long day of work. We have donors who generously give as they are able to support nights of rest for our families. And we have groups that have collected so many wish list items they come in by the carload. It is all of these things that help us make our House a home for our families. While some may say their actions are small, they are big to us!
As we come to the end of another year, I want to send a special thank you to everyone who supports RMHC. Thank you for donating your time, talents and treasures to make our House a home for families of seriously-ill children. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without each of you. I wish you all a Happy Holiday and best wishes for the New Year!
by Ryan Wilkins
Having a child in the hospital is beyond stressful. I unfortunately know from personal experience. When Dylan, our first son, was born in February of 2005, he had a fever. After measuring and weighing him, nurses took his temperature, and all of a sudden, the air was sucked out of the room. Their faces changed, and the doctor was called over for a hurried conference. Then they turned around to my wife and I and told us the news no new parent is ready to hear – “we need to take your child to the neonatal intensive care unit.” The joyous birth of our first child turned into the most frightening experience of our lives in the span of about two minutes.
While we were in the delivery room trying to process what just happened, the only thing on our minds was doing everything we could to fight for our baby’s life. For the next week amazingly sweet and gentle nurses cared for Dylan, helping cure a severe infection. Had it not been for modern medicine, he likely would not have survived. But thanks to the expertise and hard work of the medical professionals, he is a healthy and happy third grader today.
While Dylan was in the NICU inside that clear plastic box with tubes all over his body, there wasn’t anything that could tear his mother and I away from his side. Like many parents thrown into these circumstances, we couldn’t imagine not being there for him. Even though there was nothing we could do for him medically, we knew somehow that being there for him would make a difference. So, for that week, we slept anywhere we could find a place to sleep in the hospital. It wasn’t the optimal situation, but we made it work. What I wish is that there would have been a Ronald McDonald House across the street from that hospital.
At the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, we help families who are going through circumstances just like mine. The goal is simple – provide a home-away-from-home near the hospital for families whose children are being treated. Such a simple thing can make a profound difference in the life of the whole family. We slept on uncomfortable couches back in 2005. However, had there been a Ronald McDonald House right across the street, we would have been able to get a few hours of sleep, take a shower, grab some food to eat, and connect with other families going through similar situations.
That is what drives me every day as I perform my duties at as Director of Community Relations and Marketing for RMHC of Central Ohio. Everything we do is to help moms and dads, just like me, to be close to their children who need them desperately.
When I work to encourage people to donate their vehicles to provide a whole week at the Ronald McDonald House for a family, I think of what it would have meant to Sarah and I to be able to stay at a Ronald McDonald House and have that provided by a generous donor. When we are working to tell the story of the families at the House, I can’t help but put myself right in their shoes. The Ronald McDonald House is such a wonderful gift that we can give to families who are going through the most stressful circumstances.
As we grow to be the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world, I am so proud to be a part of something that is more than the biggest – it will be a support to up to 122 families every night so they don’t have to worry about where they can sleep or what to eat. They can rest assured that a warm bed and comforting community of caring people will be there for them at the House, right across the street, every night. That is invaluable.
by Meredith Harrison
This week, while we take time to reflect on things we are thankful for, I am most thankful for the opportunity to be a part of something much greater than me, the Ronald McDonald House.
My journey started in 2003 when I was in my freshman year at Otterbein College, the year I joined a sorority. This sorority, like so many others, had the opportunity to meet new friends, socialize and to volunteer. Our charity of choice was the Ronald McDonald House in Columbus, where we could interact with the volunteers, families and staff. One of my favorite things to do was to host a meal—tacos, of course! At the time, I never would have dreamed that RMHC would impact my life like it has so many others before me. I was hooked!
It started small, spending time with the Housewarmers, answering phones, cleaning rooms and doing crafts with guests. It grew into something much bigger, literally. As the House grew, so did my love for the organization and its mission to help families of seriously ill children.
Have you ever heard the saying, “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life?” Here I am, 10 years later, doing what I love, working for the Ronald McDonald House as the Donor Relations Manager, and what is even more meaningful is working to help families in need.
Today at the Ronald McDonald House, I spend time doing something unlike anything I’ve done, helping people I would have never met otherwise, and impacting the lives of so many people, including mine. I never know what to expect when I arrive at work. It could be something simple like thanking a generous donor, helping a little girl’s dreams come true by designing a princess room, or even moving 160 beds so that the families have a comfortable bed to sleep on at night. That’s what I love the most—I can always count on something new and exciting knowing it will impact others in a bigger way that I could have ever imagined.
Today, I am thankful for so many things and RMHC is one of them.
My name is Jeff Holzaepfel, and I am a senior at the University of Dayton. This past summer, I was given my first internship at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio as the Marketing Intern. Coming into the internship, I had a vision I would assist with social media marketing and give my ideas on some advertising; however, this was not the case. My internship with RMHC had me making videos, writing for the monthly newsletter, helping to set-up and take down for special events, and navigating through the city to ensure people in central Ohio knew about the Columbus Ronald McDonald House.
This was not the typical internship where I was in the office all day. The projects I was tasked with took me out of my comfort zone, which made the whole summer even more enjoyable! The project that most forced me out of my comfort zone was making two videos—there was a volunteer video and a video starring families that were guests at the House. The major challenge of the project was initiating the entire interview process. I was nervous at the beginning because I did not know how to approach volunteers or families, but I had to be proactive and finish the videos. The entire experience turned out to be fantastic. Not only did this project enhance my creative skills, I also have learned better communication skills, which are going to come in use when I am searching for a job a semester from now.
Obviously, the whole summer couldn’t be all work and no play. The staff and other interns made it exciting to come to work. The work environment was unlike anything I thought it would. I felt as if RMHC was one big family. Everyone was more than willing to help one another out on a project, which was one of the biggest lessons I learned that cannot be taught in a classroom. School makes the real world seem as if it is an all work, no play mentality, but from my experience, you can’t get the final product without the fun and loving environment at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio.
by Jamie Foltz
Hello! My name is Jamie Foltz, and I am the Director of Special Events for Ronald McDonald House Charities and I’d like to tell you a story. It’s one you may have heard before. This story is about a girl named Dorothy, who lives an ordinary life. Just like you and I, Dorothy wouldn’t say she is anything special–she’s just Dorothy. She lives in a rural world where she works hard to help her family and take care of her little dog. However, out of the blue, Dorothy’s life gets completely turned upside down. She’s going about her daily routine, taking care of her precious pup when she runs into some nasty weather. Before she knows it, the skies turn gray, the wind begins to switch, and the turbulent tornado she finds herself in lands her in a frightening, unfamiliar world.
As Dorothy arrives in this new land, she is greeted by the friendliest faces she has ever seen. While Dorothy is scared to be lost and away from home, she is comforted by this new land, her home-away-from-home. As Dorothy finds her way in this new place, she is helped by the friends she meets who are in similar situations. They teach her about staying smart and focused on the goal. They show her how the love of strangers can take away worlds of worry. They give her courage in her journey to stay strong for that perfect little pup she loves so much. She comes to rely on those strangers who turned into friends.
The Dorothy in my story probably isn’t the Dorothy you’re thinking of. My Dorothy doesn’t live in a land somewhere over the rainbow, but rather in a harsh reality where children are sick and families find themselves struggling to get by in a place that is anything but familiar. You see, my Dorothy is a young mom whose child was in a tragic accident. Out of the blue, her baby was thrown into a world where the obstacles seemed insurmountable. Dorothy never felt comfortable until she arrived in that magical place called The Ronald McDonald House, a place where she found friendship in complete strangers who were also struggling in similar situations. She saw generosity in its strongest form. Her worries were lessened and her fears eased so that all she had to focus on was getting that precious baby of hers well. As she rocked that sweet little girl to sleep each night, she would repeat three times “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
So why do I tell you this story about Dorothy? Just last week, The Red Shoe Society hosted our final big event of the year called A Toast to Tinseltown; There’s No Place Like Home. The Ivory Room was transformed into that brilliant and vibrant world Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Over 250 special guests joined us for a truly magical evening where compassion and generosity came together to celebrate the lives of everyday people who face extraordinary obstacles. Special people who bring friendship like Glenda the Good Witch were honored for their time, talent and treasure. People like Dorothy were celebrated for the hardships they overcome and courage they bring to their kids who fight the good fight each and every day. This very special event was brought to life by the almost unbelievable similarities between the Ronald McDonald House and The Land of Oz. When we think about how we make it through the ups and downs of life, we can look to the land of make believe to help us learn some of the best lessons life has to offer. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz said, “A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”