Ronald McDonald House New York | Around the House | Spring 2019


As we mark our 40th anniversary this year, I reflect upon all that we have gone through together and also all that awaits us now. In 1979, Ronald McDonald House New York first opened its doors with 24 rooms for children and families battling pediatric cancer. The rooms were soon full. It became clear that the size of our facility could not meet the demand of so many families in need. Thus, in 1992 we relocated to our current location on East 73rd Street and were able to accommodate 84 families each night. Yet again, the House filled to capacity nearly every night. Through a two-year renovation and expansion completed in late 2017, we grew to 95 rooms, including six post-transplant suites. Ronald McDonald House New York, as it stands today, can now houses nearly 400 children and family members a night.

Uniquely positioned at the nexus of healthcare and hospitality, the House is a critical resource for families fighting for their children’s lives. While our hospital partners provide life-saving medical treatment, we provide an environment that promotes health and healing. We offer tailored programs for all ages and interests, from early childhood development to music and arts. Most of all, we provide a sense of normalcy and an opportunity to make happy, lasting memories together.

Our House is not only New York’s House, but the world’s House, a duality that drives us to always strive to do more for those we serve. Indeed, 40% of our population is international. As we take care of these families, we are not only expanding our programs and services in-house but expanding our footprint in the New York City area as well. Our first Family Room at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn and our hospital outreach and hospitality programs now impact thousands of families each year.

It is known that 20% of a person’s recovery from illness is clinical, while 80% is based on the social determinants of health. That 80% is what we provide to our children and families from around the world. It is our mission to meet the needs of all of our families, wherever they may be on their journey. We continue to monitor and respond to the changes in pediatric medical treatment and are focused on providing these crucial social determinants, including economic/financial assistance, food and nutrition, transportation, peer-to-peer support, education, language access, and wellness services for families and caregivers, all meeting the practical and emotional needs of pediatric cancer patients and their families.

Less than two decades ago, 80% of pediatric cancer patients lost their battle. Today, 80% survive. Through it all, the House has provided what clinical settings can not: peer-to-peer support, family-centered care, and an enduring sense of normalcy for patients during treatment.

We endeavor to do more. In addition to our expansion in the New York City community, we have recently launched hospitality and healthcare industry advisory councils to better serve our families. We kicked off our anniversary festivities at Share-a-Night this past December with the announcement of our 40 Gifts for 40 Years program. As we approach our official 40th Anniversary Celebration later this year, we near another important milestone – nearly 40,000 families have stayed with us.

For four decades, Ronald McDonald House New York has been here for families. With the help of our volunteers, donors, and supporters like you, we will be here for many more. Thank you.


At the age of four, Kayla was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Kayla has a form of brain cancer so rare, she’s one of only three people in the whole world who have it. Just over a year ago, Kayla’s doctors told her they were out of ways to treat her cancer.

“I really didn’t think she was going to survive,” her mom, Rochelle, admits. “But here we are, five years later, going strong.”

In 2017, Rochelle found out about a hospital in New York City that was developing new, groundbreaking treatments that could help Kayla. She brought Kayla to New York seeking the treatment she needs. Today, Kayla is still battling pediatric cancer but has hope for a cure and the support of a community that understands what she is going through at Ronald McDonald House New York.

Ronald McDonald House New York Celebrated 25 Years of “Skate with the Greats” Event

Ronald McDonald House New York Celebrated 25 Years of “Skate with the Greats” Event

On February 22nd, Ronald McDonald House New York celebrated the 25th year of the “Skate with the Greats” event with co-founder and New York Rangers Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert. Rod was awarded the House's Child’s Champion Award to recognize his longstanding commitment to raising awareness and millions of dollars for RMH-NY.

“It’s because of Rod and his devotion that we are celebrating 25 years of this event, which makes a huge impact at the House each year and allows us to provide various services and support to families battling pediatric cancer,” said Dr. Ruth Browne, President and CEO of RMH-NY.

That impact was demonstrated when special guests Vanessa Gomez and Gia Martinez shared their story during our program. In an emotional speech, Vanessa described what it was like to learn that her 18-month old daughter, Gia, was diagnosed with stage III Nueroblastoma. Over the last year, Gia has received a number of high-risk treatments – chemotherapy, radiation, two bone marrow transplants, multiple surgeries, and intensive medicine to control the side effects of these treatments. Vanessa spoke of her fears and worries when traveling to an unfamiliar city in hopes of finding a cure to an unpredictable and cruel disease.

“As you can imagine, it is so hard and painful for parents to hear the devastating words that your son or daughter has cancer. When we came to New York, we didn’t have a place to stay until the social worker contacted Ronald McDonald House. Although I have sadness and fears about my daughter’s health, I know that not only do we have a place to stay, but so do all of the families from around the world and we can share our feelings and experiences with them,” shared Vanessa.

For the tenth year, premier global investment bank RBC Capital Markets served as lead event sponsor and has been a tremendous supporter of RMH-NY off the ice through their dedication to volunteerism and the families we serve. With the support of the New York Rangers and RBC Capital Markets, Skate with the Greats has provided RMH-NY with funding to support our mission and allow our families, like Vanessa and Gia, to focus on what is most important – their child’s health.


As we approach our 40th Anniversary, we salute two of our inaugural volunteers – Mary Lambert and Jeannie Riegel.

It was 1979, our founding year, when Mary first visited the two attached town houses with 24 rooms, on East 86th Street. A few years later, Jeannie heard about the House from the Volunteer Referral Service, and soon became a dedicated volunteer.

“When we first started, we didn’t have the beautiful playroom we have now, so we put together tables and organized games and face painting to brighten the days for the kids who were going through their treatments,” said the ladies. There weren’t many volunteers in those days, and the families were really happy to talk to us and get some advice about navigating New York City," they said.

Mary and Jeannie have truly enjoyed their four decades of service to the House. They have been thrilled to see the growth of the volunteer program, which is now the lifeblood of the House. Both ladies continue to make weekly visits to the House, where they serve coffee, lemonade and snacks along with a big helping of warmth, comfort and support.


Ronald McDonald Family Room at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County has expanded its services to reach more families in the NYC community. We rolled out a micro Hospitality Cart that visits the Pediatric Care units of the hospital to offer families snacks, refreshments and the comfort of a friendly volunteer to chat with. Within the Family Room, new programming has been introduced including breakfast, smoothies, and a lunch program.


What could be sweeter than an afternoon at , Cookie Dough Confections? We were thrilled to return to DŌ for the first time in 2019 and introduce this amazing place to all new families! Our kids and caregivers had a productive and delicious afternoon baking and decorating cookies and, best of all, making DŌ’s signature edible cookie dough. Thank you to Kristen Tomlan, DŌ Founder, and friends for having us back. We look forward to our next trip.


After all the fun and festivities of the holiday season, sometimes March can feel like it’s missing something. That’s why we found our own reasons to celebrate and introduced Family Spirit Week. Throughout the second week of March, each day had special events and activities that focused on what matters most: family! We kicked off the week with a day of gratitude - families filled the lobby with handwritten notes about what they are most grateful for. On Tuesday, kids opened Kidzaria De Restaurant, a very romantic pop-up restaurant for their parents, fully staffed by kid chefs, servers, a sommelier (signature drink: sparkling lemonade with fresh muddled raspberries), and even a maître d’. We also made family spirit t-shirts with the Craft Studio, celebrated Family Game Day with life-sized games for all ages (including our homemade FamilyLand board game) and capped the week with a Pajama Day filled with family movies and popcorn.


RMH-NY has partnered with God's Love We Deliver to provide nutritious, medically tailored meals to families at no cost. To ensure that families are getting enough to eat in the morning before treatment, God’s Love We Deliver now delivers ready-to-go breakfast kits for over 100 family member. Since the start of the program, Gods Love We Deliver has provided breakfast for over 360 family members within 90 days.


On February 1st, the Blavatnik Family Foundation Wellness Center sponsored The International Feast, an opportunity for our families to prepare some favorite dishes to share with one another. From Jamaica to Uzbekistan and beyond, our in-House chefs created an incredible home-cooked feast while everyone enjoyed music, magic tricks and a true celebration of our House’s diverse population. The next International Feast will be held in early summer 2019.

A very special thank you to our friends Lou, Karen and Nicole Riccio and Paul Fagan for providing a delicious spread as well as entertainment for this special feast.


The 20th Annual Kids Charity Fun Run took place on November 10, 2018 in Central Park. Last year’s biggest fundraisers were Anastasios, 5 years old from PS 158, and Hayden, 10 years old from PS 343 – Peck Slip School. These individuals and their families visited the House to redeem the top prize with our CFO, Jan Navatkoski. We would also like to express our gratitude for a long-time donor and supporter of RMH-NY, Emily Blavatnik, for continuing to champion this event, and everything she does for the House!


In early 2019, RMH-NY launched two Industry Advisory Councils focused on health and hospitality. Each of these advisory councils will work to provide expertise and best in class thought leadership to the CEO and leadership of RMH-NY to help the team continue to deliver excellence and a seamless circle of support to the children and families we serve.

Council members are senior leaders from organizations including Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Hilton Hotels Worldwide, Hotel Association of the City of New York. Marriott Hotels, Pfizer, Teledoc, Trial Spark, and WebMD.



James has gone above and beyond to help support the families staying at Ronald McDonald House New York.

In January, James made a return trip to the House when he was in town to host Saturday Night Live. Following his visit to the House, James selected RMH-NY to be the recipient of funds raised from a remarkable sweepstakes for his Oscars shirt that was signed by dozens of celebrities. For your chance to win and to learn more about the campaign, visit the Prizeo Site.


Emily has been a longtime friend to the House and spent time getting to know each family individually and truly brightened their days.

We were fortunate to enjoy a private screening with MDC Productions of “Mary Poppins Returns” and were joined by Mary Poppins herself, Emily Blunt! A few months later, in February of this year, we were surprised with a financial donation from Emily to the House and remain so grateful for and humbled by her heartfelt support for our families.


Judd has grown to be a tremendous supporter of Ronald McDonald House New York and the families we serve.

Judd and his wife, Leslie Mann, stopped by the House last year to spend time with families for arts and crafts at the House. Since his visit to the House, he has selected Ronald McDonald House New York to receive proceeds from the premiere of his show, Crashing LIVE!

NY1 & CBS | Jamison's NYPD Escort

While Jamison was staying at Ronald McDonald House New York, he wished to meet a NYPD Officer. The very next day the 19th Precinct Police Officers were at the doors of RMH-NY to meet him. Since then, Jamison's friendship has grown to even celebrating his birthday together! This January, Jamison's friends from the NYPD stopped by again to escort him to his second major brain surgery. Thank you to the NYPD for always being our #HeroesoftheHouse

TODAY Show | Share The Love

On February 14th, families of Ronald McDonald House New York joined TODAY Show Host's Hoda Kotb, Jenna Busch, Al Roker and Craig Melvin for a special on-air Valentine's Day feature.

People Magazine & More | Meghan Markle Donation

Featured in Yahoo, PEOPLE, Hello! Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, Time & More!

Floral arrangements that guests created at Meghan Markle's, the Duchess of Sussex, baby shower were donated to families staying at RMH-NY. Thank you to Repeat Roses, an organization that repurposes floral arrangements to be donated to charities, who hand-picked RMH-NY to receive this donation.

NY1 | State Bags

As part of their Spread the Love Initiative, State Bags visited several New York City charities in one day, culminating in a massive party here in our Playroom. Families received fully-packed State Bags backpacks and enjoyed an afternoon customizing their bags, making slime, dancing along to a live DJ, and capturing the fun in a photo booth. Thank you to Jacq and Scot, Co-Founders of State Bags, for bringing us this event.


Created By
Ronald McDonald House New York


Volunteers of Ronald McDonald House New York & Board Member, Candace Leeds.

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