Our History

At Ronald McDonald House Charities, we owe our continued success to the tireless work of volunteers and the countless contributions from our donors. Because of you, we’ve been helping improve the lives of children and their families for 39 years.

Here are some of the historic milestones that you have made possible.

1974

  • The first Ronald McDonald House opens on October 15, 1974 in Philadelphia thanks to Dr. Audrey Evans, Philadelphia Eagles’ player Fred Hill (whose daughter, Kim, had leukemia), Leonard Tose, owner of the Eagles, Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager and Ed Rensi, the McDonald’s regional manager.
  • The McDonald’s owner/operators in Philadelphia made the House possible, donating proceeds from the sale of Shamrock Shakes.

1984

  • Ronald McDonald House Charities is officially established in memory of McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc, a strong advocate for children.

1985

  • The first European Ronald McDonald House opens in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • There are more than 88 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide.
  • RMHC establishes the RMHC/HACER scholarship, providing awards to graduating high school seniors of Hispanic descent entering their freshman year of college.

1986

  • The 100th Ronald McDonald House opens in Long Island, NY.
  • RMHC creates an Award of Excellence to honor child health care advocates making great contributions to improving the quality of life for children. Julius B. Richmond, M.D., founder of Head Start, is the first recipient of the award.

1987

1988

  • Since its inception in 1984, RMHC and its network of Chapters awards a total of more than $17 million in grants and program services to more than 480 children’s causes.

1991

  • The 150th Ronald McDonald House opens in Paris, France.

1992

  • RMHC creates a new program for the families of critically ill children with the first Ronald McDonald Family Room, opening at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, KS.

1993

  • Joan Kroc, philanthropist and wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, establishes endowment gifts of $500,000 in stock to each Ronald McDonald House open and operating in the United States.

1994

  •  Ronald McDonald Houses open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Auckland, New Zealand, bringing the total number of Houses to 164 in 12 countries.

1997

  • RMHC establishes a Matching Grant Program for U.S. local Chapters. The program allows local RMHC Chapters to tailor grants to respond to the pressing needs facing children in their own communities.

1999

  • The 200th Ronald McDonald House opens in Budapest, Hungary. Houses are located in 18 countries around the world.
  • Through the Matching Grant Program, RMHC and its local Chapters award more than $16 million in grants to more than 1,300 U.S. children’s organizations to date.

2000

  • RMHC launches the first Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Worcester, MA, offering cost-effective medical, dental and health education services to vulnerable children.

2001

  • RMHC introduces its RMHC/ASIA scholarship program for high school students of Asian-Pacific origin.
  • RMHC introduces its RMHC/African-American Future Achievers scholarship program for high school students of African-American descent.

2002

  • Worth magazine names RMHC one of “America’s 100 Best Charities of 2002.” It’s the second consecutive year RMHC receives this honor.
  • In November, McDonald’s hosts the first World Children’s Day to raise funds for RMHC and other children’s charities around the world.

2003

  • Joan Kroc bequeaths more than $60 million to RMHC.
  • New Ronald McDonald Houses open in several European countries including Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Romania.

2004

  • Twenty more Ronald McDonald Family Rooms open, bringing the number to 80 Family Rooms in 10 countries.
  • Twenty-three Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs operate in the United States and Argentina.

2005

  • The first European Ronald McDonald Care Mobile opens in Poland.
  • Seventeen Family Rooms open, totaling 98 Family Rooms in 10 countries.

2006

  • Five new Ronald McDonald Houses open, increasing the Ronald McDonald House program to 262 Houses in 28 countries. Additionally, more than one-third of Houses expand their capacity. Each night, more than 6,000 rooms are available for families with seriously ill and injured children.
  • Two new Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles launch and eight Ronald McDonald Family Rooms open.
  • RMHC awards 1,700 scholarships totaling $1.3 million to students worldwide. Since the scholarship program began in 1985, RMHC and its local Chapters have awarded $25.5 million to help high school students achieve higher education.

2007

  •  RMHC has local Chapters in 51 countries and regions.
  • The Ronald McDonald House program grows to 271 Houses in 30 countries.
  • Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles launch in San Salvador, El Salvador, and Lubbock, Texas.

2008

  • RMHC Italy opens a 31-bedroom Ronald McDonald House on Vatican property. The House sits on a private beach, providing serenity for families whose children are receiving care at Bambini Gesu Children’s Hospital.
  • Atlanta’s 50-room Ronald McDonald House is the second built to Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) specifications. The House includes a dedicated wing with 10 private, two-bedroom suites for families of children who are recovering from bone marrow, heart, liver or kidney transplants.
  • RMHC is located in 52 countries and regions, with the newest being a Chapter in Latvia.
  • Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles are newly operating in Thailand, New Orleans and Colorado Springs.

2009

  • Nine new Ronald McDonald Houses opened in the U.S., Germany, Netherlands, U.K., Argentina, Sweden, Germany and Guatemala, which will offer 6,600 more families the ability to be there everyday with hugs and kisses for their sick children.
  • RMHC celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House program.
  • Twelve Ronald McDonald Family Rooms opened, with the first RMFR opening in Chile, Germany, Poland and Colombia.
  • The Ronald McDonald Family Retreat opened in New Zeland in Rotorura.  The retreat provides free accomodation for one week for families on the shores of Lake Rotorura.

2010

  • RMHC celebrates the 300th Ronald McDonald House opening in St. Louis on September 29.  The 300th House provides 20 bedrooms, and is 18, 188 square feet.
  • Marking the 10th Anniversary of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program, RMHC opened its 40th RMCM in Latvia.
  • RMHC welcomed 2 new Chapters - RMHC Curacao and Ecuador.
  • Ronald McDonald Houses opened in Campinas, Brazil, Evansville, IN, and Fuchu, Tokyo, which is Japan's 7th House program.

2011

  • The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Thailand, making it the 309 Ronald McDonald House in the world.
  • A Ronald McDonald Care Mobile opened in Indonesia.  There are 44 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles serving children today.
  • The RMHC Donation Box program celebrated its 20th anniversary.  As the largest ongoing fundraiser for the Charity, $200 million has been collected to date.
  • Kim Hill, the girl who inspired the first Ronald McDonald House, passed away at the age of 44. Read her inspirational story.
  • RMHC welcomed two Chapters - Indonesia and Uruguay.