For the Blakey family of Ava, you can only imagine the worry. A few years ago, baby Owen made his debut nine weeks early, weighing only 3 pounds, 6 ounces and needing round-the-clock care at Cox South.
Fortunately, the nearby Ronald McDonald House provided the family some comfort for several weeks.
“Each day in the NICU can bring new challenges physically and emotionally,” Mom Anne Blakely said. “Having the Ronald McDonald House so close allowed me to maximize my time by Owen’s side, without worrying about gas and traveling back and forth from home. The comfort, support and amenities provided by the RMH lifted a large burden.”
It’s probably no wonder, then, that this is one of the many stories that brings a smile to the President and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House, Bonnie Keller. She’s led the non-profit since its inception in 1988.
Even better, the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper has been a strong supporter of the Ronald McDonald House since the tournament’s own inception 27 years ago.
Now here’s your chance again to assist the Ronald McDonald House and watch the PGA Web.com Tour stop in August in Springfield, if not win prizes. The tournament has gifted almost $13 million to children’s charities in its history.
About the Ronald McDonald House
In her tucked-away office at the Ronald McDonald House near Cox South Hospital, Keller cannot help but beam.
This is an organization that, thanks in part to the PCCC, has grown tremendously over the years. In 2002, it dispatched a dental truck. In 2012, it opened a second facility near Mercy Hospital in central Springfield. Each have served important causes, given many regional families turn to Springfield’s two major hospitals.
And to think the Ronald McDonald House has been part of the PCCC since its inception. Keller still remembers PGA great and Springfield native Payne Stewart turning out to support the event, and NBC “Today Show” meteorologist Willard Scott broadcasting live from Highland Springs Country Club.
That’s when the tournament in the early days was the Ben Hogan Greater Ozarks Open, and Ronald McDonald House was the primary charity – and handled just about everything, from sweepstakes tickets to securing sponsors.
“I’ve been really fortunate to be doing what I’m doing,” Keller said, and then offered words that you won’t forget. “It’s a great way to spend a life.”
Which is understandable when you think of the many ways Ronald McDonald House provides peace of mind for families – those with children, from pre-birth to age 21, who have been hospitalized because of a serious illness or injury.
Each House, which requires only a $7 overnight fee, is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by dedicated members of its management team and volunteers.
The House, which has facilities near Cox and Mercy hospitals in Springfield, has aided more than 11,000 families since opening, with nine nights the average length of stay. Since New Year’s Day 2016, the non-profit has cared for more than 500 families.
It’s truly a home. Each family has its own room, a comfortable bed and kitchen and laundry facilities. Donated food items are available in case they’re needed, and nearly every evening, volunteers and special outside groups prepare entire meals for guests.
Overall, it’s a place where families can deal more easily with the chaos and uncertainty brought on by catastrophic illness or injury.
And, if you’re curious of its real impact, just visit the Ronald McDonald House’s website. Scroll through the stories of some of the families assisted, and it’s easy to tear up – partly because of their situations but also because of the thanks they offer to the house.
For instance, take the Michael and Patti Brown family of Ozark, whose baby Jase also was born six weeks early.
This is how well the Ronald McDonald House made such a positive impact:
“We love going back and taking dinner to the families there now,” the family said, “as a small way to show our appreciation for all the Ronald McDonald House did for us.”
RISING STARS, RAISING HOPES
- BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the skyboxes on the 9th and 18th greens (with food badges), on-course signage and events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Businesses also can donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball & Charity Auction presented by Copy Products, Inc. and University Plaza.
- WIN A NEW TRUCK: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket can win one of 500 daily gift cards as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT. It’s also good for a four-day tournament pass.
- SEE THE FUTURE OF THE PGA TOUR: The PCCC is from Aug. 5-15, with the pros beginning play on Aug. 11 at Highland Springs Country Club. For tickets or other ways to assist, call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.
- HELP RONALD McDONALD HOUSE: The Springfield non-profit offers two locations that provide temporary, home away from homes for families when their seriously ill or injured child is hospitalized far from home. To help or if in need of assistance, call 417-886-0225. Or visit its website at RMHCozarks.org.