40 From Our 40
Our daughters, TJ and Zander, were born February 23, 2022, 17 weeks premature. Not long after their birth, we began our nearly eight-month stay at Ronald McDonald House. During our time there, the staff was amazing, ensuring we always had anything we needed including meals, supplies, and answering all our questions. We’re so appreciative of the staff, the volunteers, and the donors who make having to stay at the House under critical circumstances more comforting. Everyone was so personable and they genuinely cared about not only the welfare of our babies but also our well-being while enduring the lengthy NICU stay. We would like to thank everyone involved who makes the operation of the Ronald McDonald House seamless, so families don’t have to worry about housing while trying to be present and care for their loved ones. After 232 days, Zander was discharged from the NICU followed by TJ at 240 days. The girls are thriving since being home and have nowhere to go but up, with very bright futures ahead! The Ronald McDonald House plays a part in their story and we will forever be grateful for the services and housing they provided in what was probably our most difficult time of need.
Teela and Taylor Hamilton
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After two years of virtual events, we’re excited to have had a tremendous turn out at Taste, Together. This year was all about fun, from elevated versions of our House guests’ favorite meals to interactive games and even a magician.
Taste, Together was co-presented by two partners that have supported our mission since the very beginning, McDonald’s and Riley Children’s Health. Cody Adams, anchor at WISH-TV, hosted the evening as 275 guests celebrated RMHCCIN’s achievements and milestones – and had a lot of fun doing it! By the end of the evening, more than $175,000 had been raised to keep families close when they need it most.
To our guests, sponsors, and friends, we hope you enjoyed the evening and are looking forward to 2023!
Brunch & Blingo
Swing for Kids
Heroes for the House
Truckers at Heart
On October 29, staff celebrated the wonderful volunteers that make it possible for the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms to provide families with a caring, comfortable experience. The 50+ volunteers in attendance had a chance to be on the receiving end of care for a change, with staff serving breakfast, recognizing anniversaries, celebrating milestones, and honoring those volunteers who go above and beyond with Lori Kleiman Awards.
Take a peak at what’s happening in the House with Heartbits. In this issue – celebrating our 40th anniversary, volunteer highlights, and special guest moments.
Student athletes from Butler University’s men’s basketball program signed the first name, image, and likeness (NIL) contracts with All Good Dawgs, Inc. These contracts will allow the new AGD Ambassadors to make meaningful impacts in the Indianapolis community. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana is proud to be one of 12 nonprofits paired with an AGD ambassador. Freshman Center, Connor Turnbull selected RMHCCIN because it aligns with his own passions and interests, having once called a RMH home.
Larry “The Can Man” VanNess was a good friend to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana for nearly 20 years. He was our most well-known and beloved pop tab collector and advocate, having collected more than 26 million tabs, every one of which he counted by hand. Larry may not have had children of his own, but he cared deeply about the mission of RMHCCIN and the people it served, and often shared that collecting pop tabs gave him purpose. Our team is working to properly memorialize Larry and will share more once those details are finalized.
We were saddened at the loss of founding board member and chief fundraiser of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Indiana Gordon K. Durnil who passed away August 11, 2022, at the age of 86. In addition to his legacy building the House, he was heavily engaged in public service. Fellow founders, Jim and Cheri Forslund told us, “Gordon and his wife Lynda shared the story of the House with so many movers and shakers; many doors were opened by their efforts. It would have been very difficult without them.”
October 14, 2022 was officially proclaimed Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana Day by the Office of Mayor Hogsett of Indianapolis. As I read the proclamation, one passage particularly stands out:
Whereas, RMHCCIN has supported more than 100,000 families in its forty-year history, nurturing a community where children and their families embrace life and healing with a sense of hope, enthusiasm, courage, and joy. Their legacy and efforts are extended by admirable community partners, a compassionate team of staff and volunteers, and their Chief Cheer Officer, who doubles as the House’s therapy dog, Mac. (Yes, even Mac was part of the official proclamation!)
We came together at an event this autumn by our living, founding board members, including Karen Campbell, Brenda Duncan, Jim and Cheri Forslund, Judy Monnier, and Jim Props. Cindy Frew, daughter of the late Gordon Durnill, also attended. Gerald Cassidy was unable to attend, and sadly both Dr. Steven Beering and Charles Richmond have passed away. As we connected, I was flooded with a sense of gratitude and astonishment for the extraordinary work they did across central Indiana 40 years ago to create our Ronald McDonald House.
This issue of Heart & Hearth contains the final 20 interviews from the 40 From Our 40 Initiative (with a bonus interview coming next year). This has been such an incredible undertaking. What was planned as a sharing of stories from our past has produced an incredible resource that will be used to educate staff, volunteers, friends, and partners on the legacy of hope and healing we carry forward for years to come.
‘Tis the season to reflect on the gifts in our lives. I am grateful for: our volunteers and staff who work tirelessly to care for the families we serve; our primary hospital partner at Riley Children’s Health who continuously champions the importance of our role in family-centered care; and our donors and partners whose generosity keeps our doors open and our lights on. I’m thankful for our founding board members and for Dr. Audrey Evans, Ronald McDonald House Founder, who we lost this year.
Most of all, I’m thankful for you. Your support and generosity mean we can provide a home away from home for families when they need it most. Thank you for your continued love and support of the House, and best wishes during this wonderful holiday season.