Community backing key to Ronald McDonald House project’s success

The chair of the capital campaign cabinet for Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta is amazed by how eagerly the community has stepped up to support the project.

The chair of the capital campaign cabinet for Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta is amazed by how eagerly the community has stepped up to support the project.

In fact, Lyn Radford said community members have contributed about 40 per cent of the $10.5 million raised so far to build the three-storey house near Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

Corporate donations account for the remainder.

“It’s the community that’s building this house, really truly, the community is building this house,” she said of smaller initiatives such as fundraisers at various offices, schools and golf tournaments as well as the sale of even a 4-H calf.

On Thursday morning, CIBC associate vice-president Vern Cey was pleased to present an appreciative Radford with a $33,400 cheque, of which $8,400 was raised by about 165 employees working at the 13 branches across Central Alberta.

The sum was raised through used book sales, bake sales and even a lemonade stand at the bank in Drumheller during a two month fundraising campaign that concluded in May.

Cey added the full participation of the employees inspired the corporation to contribute the additional $25,000.

“A lot of our employees have been touched by [Ronald McDonald House], they have been in situations where they’ve used it in Calgary or Edmonton,” he said.

“And we’ve had a few employees that were in situations that would have used it had there been one in Red Deer.”

For example, Cey said one of the children who ran the lemonade stand in Drumheller spent a significant amount of time in the Red Deer hospital when she was a baby and her parents would have benefited from a Ronald McDonald House had it existed then.

Similar stories of families who could have used such a facility or have in fact used the house in either Edmonton or Calgary are commonplace, which is why Radford believes the community has rallied behind the project.

“When you have those kind of stories you recognize it is really the community, the grass roots people, that understand the need for this house,” she said.

The most recent statistics, Radford continued, show that there are some 33,000 pediatric stays each year at the Red Deer hospital and that 40 per cent of the patients are from out of town.

The cabinet, which started its fundraising efforts in November, is closing in on its $12 million target to build the 11-suite house that will provide low-cost accommodations for Central Alberta families with critically ill babies, sick children and high-risk pregnancies being treated at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

The house will be built at 3908 Gaetz Ave, near the hospital, and Radford estimates construction will get underway in the coming weeks once the tendering process is officially complete.

It will be the first new Ronald McDonald House built in Canada in 25 years and the lifespan for the building is approximately 40 years.

It is estimated that 400 families will stay at the house each year.

The anticipated opening for Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta is June 2011.

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