40 From Our 40: Mike Rhinaman

Mike and friend Stephanie Keys at a volunteer celebration.

Mike and friend Stephanie Keys at a volunteer celebration.

Mike Rhinaman dedicated his time and spirit to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana for nearly two decades, leaving an indelible mark on families, staff, and volunteers alike. He was known for his love of spreading Christmas cheer, and his steadfast dedication to volunteerism, working on weekends and holidays so other volunteers could spend time with their families.

Mike spent most of his career in the banking industry. When a coworker introduced him to the Ronald McDonald House, he became hooked right away. “He fell in love with Riley from the first time he volunteered,” Nancy Cox said of her brother. Later adding part time employee to his Ronald McDonald House resume, Mike dedicated himself to making sure the (then) Ronald McDonald House inside Riley Children’s Health was running smoothly. That space is now serving families as a Ronald McDonald Family Room.

As every year would come to an end, Mike would find his time to shine. Mike’s brother Jack shared, “Our family has always been Christmas-crazy and he took that to the extreme we all did.” Mike would transform the RMH facilities into a veritable winter wonderland for the holiday season. He led the charge annually with Santa’s Workshop, a one-of-a-kind experience where guest families could “shop” free of charge for presents for their children. Santa would make an appearance, and the House would be filled with the inescapable smell of hot chocolate.

Throughout it all, Mike put everyone else before himself. “Our lives revolved around the Ronald McDonald House,” Jack shared. “On the holidays when he volunteered, we would want to wait to eat and he would say ‘No, go ahead, just make sure I get a plate. Or two or three.’”

Mike passed away on July 26, 2019 at the age of 57, tirelessly dedicated to the Ronald McDonald House until the very end. Inside the Ronald McDonald Family Room on Riley Children’s first floor, Mike has a closet dedicated to his memory. It was his closet, filled to the brim with all the decorations and merriments he would share with guests. To an outsider, a dedication of a closet may seem like a silly gesture, but for those that knew him, it’s a fitting tribute to his favorite part of serving the House.

“We’re going to lift up and celebrate all that was important to him,” said Karin Ogden, CEO. “We’ll also try to lead by example, be there for each other and for the families and our community. God bless him for his love and his service to this House. We are better because of it.”

By Adam Lowe

Heart & Hearth Winter 2022