Our History

How It All Started

In 1974 the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time Kim Hill, the daughter of Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill, was undergoing treatment for leukemia. Throughout Kim’s treatment, her father recognized the need for a supportive environment away from the hospital for families of seriously ill children. He enlisted the aid of his teammates and local McDonald’s restaurant owners to raise funds that would help purchase and renovate the first Ronald McDonald House.

The first Ronald McDonald House was named, not only because of McDonald’s fundraising support but also for the positive, hopeful, and fun-loving feeling Ronald McDonald was able to instill into the minds of so many children. Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) (previously Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities) was established ten years later in 1984 in memory of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc.

During the following decades, organizational structures, missions and names evolved. New core programs, such as the Ronald McDonald Family Room and Care Mobile, were developed. As additional RMHC chapters were formed nationally and internationally, they were often the organizations operating those programs. Today there are more than 375 Ronald McDonald House programs, 263 Ronald McDonald Family Room programs and 29 Care Mobile programs located across the globe. Every local chapter is an independently operated not-for-profit corporation.

Better Together! Becoming Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio

Northeast Ohio was a leader in this family-centered care movement, opening the ninth Ronald McDonald House in the world in Cleveland in 1979, followed by the Akron House in 1985. RMHC of Northeastern Ohio became the first RMHC chapter in Ohio in 1988, with RMHC Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania following in 1993.

In early 2019, exploration of a strategic alliance began with the formation of a joint task force of the four organizations serving areas of Northeast Ohio. The task force’s 18-month study concluded that a single, merged organization would serve more families, more effectively throughout the entire region.

In July 2020, the four organizations united as the current Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio, Inc. (RMHC NEO). Through our Cleveland and Akron guest House programs, four Hospital Family Room programs, STAR Center, Care Mobile and family resource link RedTreehouse.org, we are able to help more families in more ways than ever before.

More information, video and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the merge can be found here.

Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland History

The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland began providing lodging and support services to families of critically ill and injured children in September of 1979. The original Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland had 26 rooms, a kitchen, common areas and a small garden. All of this was made possible from the support of generous owners and operators of local McDonald’s restaurants who contributed funding through the sale of Shamrock Shakes, and our founders who believed in the mission of serving families in times of need.

The history of Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland is told by the founding families.

In 1994 the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland moved to its current location on the corner of E. 105th Street and Euclid Avenue. The House offered 37 guest rooms, comfortable living and play areas, a fully equipped kitchen, library, family resource center, children’s playroom and laundry room. Surrounding the House are beautiful gardens, flowers, herbs, children’s gardens, winding walkways and benches. This serene oasis was designated as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

In 2012, the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland launched a massive expansion and renovation project which added an additional 20,000 square feet on four floors, including 18 new guest rooms, a larger kitchen facility, an extended recreation room for families to gather and an expanded conference center available for community meetings. A staple in the Cleveland community for more than 40 years, the House can now comfortably accommodate up to 53 families each night.

View the video below to learn more about the historical milestones of our Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland.

Ronald McDonald House of Akron History

In the years before the Ronald McDonald House of Akron opened its doors, Bill Considine, CEO Emeritus of Akron Children’s Hospital, saw countless weary parents sleeping on cramped waiting room chairs and even on the floor in order to be near a sick child. Through his determination, vision and leadership, a 20-bedroom, 17,000 square foot Ronald McDonald House in Akron became a reality in January of 1985.

In 1982, M.G. O’Neil, Chairman of General Tire and Rubber Company, became the first capital campaign chairman. The project was given a jumpstart by pledges from the Akron Children’s Hospital Women’s Board, local McDonald’s restaurants and our remarkably generous community. Over $1.8 million was raised for the House and it was built debt-free. While there were many large pledges, the fund drive was “largely a community venture with hundreds of businesses, organizations and individuals pitching in to make the dream possible.”

Since January 13, 1985, the Ronald McDonald House in Akron has provided comfort, support and resources for families with sick children just steps from the hospital.  Akron Children’s Hospital’s continued growth over the years, however, led to increasing numbers of families to serve and an ever-growing waiting list. An expansion of the Ronald McDonald House was needed. In April 2018 the renovated and expanded House opened; the 48,000 square foot expansion resulted in 42 new guest rooms to keep even more families together through the biggest challenge of their lives.