World Children’s Day at McDonald’s Raises Millions to Help Children In Need

World Children’s Day at McDonald’s Raises Millions to Help Children In Need

Funds Raised Support Ronald McDonald House Charities Expansion Plans; Entertainers Help Honor Ronald McDonald House Charities Heroes from Around the World


New York, NY–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–November 20, 2007–Five everyday heroes from around the world were honored today for their inspiring work on behalf of children in need as part of World Children’s Day at McDonald’s. The celebration took place today at the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, where McDonald’s USA President Don Thompson was joined by entertainment stars Hayden Panettiere from NBC-TV’s “Heroes;” multi-platinum artist and songwriter, Ne-Yo; actress, singer and comedienne Angélica Vale; and celebrity chef Ron Bilaro.

“As we host World Children’s Day across the globe, we think of the children and families who have been helped in times of real need,” said Don Thompson, president, McDonald’s USA. “We are grateful to everyone who makes it possible to help children through Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and other worthy children’s causes, and we hope many more will be inspired to offer support. That is what World Children’s Day is all about.”

The entertainment stars joined the “Friends of RMHC” network of more than 30,000 volunteers who support the Charities’ programs in countries across the globe. “It is an honor and privilege to participate in the World Children’s Day celebration and to honor those who truly give of themselves to the Ronald McDonald House Charities to help children and their families,” said Angélica Vale. “I am very proud to lend a hand to such a great organization and bring attention to such an important cause.”

World Children’s Day at McDonald’s is a worldwide annual fundraising effort that comes to life at McDonald’s restaurants in more than 100 countries thanks to McDonald’s customers, owners/operators, employees and suppliers. Since its inception in 2002, World Children’s Day at McDonald’s has raised $100 million to help children and families through RMHC programs, including Ronald McDonald Houses, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, grants and scholarships, plus other children’s charities.

At today’s event, RMHC also announced a goal to raise $600 million over the next four years to:

— Build 68 new Ronald McDonald Houses, for a total of 339, and expand 30 existing Houses, so that each night 8,000 families will be able to call a Ronald McDonald House home;

— Open 56 more Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, raising the number to 171, so RMHC can serve a total of a million and a half families per year, and

— Roll out 23 new Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, bringing the fleet to 54, enabling RMHC to serve more than 420,000 children each year with dental and medical care in their neighborhoods, where they need it.

McDonald’s Give A Hand Award:

The first-ever McDonald’s Give A Hand Awards were presented today to five everyday heroes who have overcome hardships with the help of RMHC, or who do inspiring work as volunteers for the Charity. Panettiere, Ne-Yo, Vale, and Bilaro joined McDonald’s and RMHC executives to present the Give A Hand Awards. The awardees are:

— Gabriela Lebenas from Buenos Aires, Argentina – the first Argentine RMHC volunteer who helped establish three Ronald McDonald Houses and the first Care Mobile outside the U.S. in her country.

— Dr. Elvira Directo from Manila, Philippines – an educator for the Department of Education who has volunteered her time and educational skills to extend the Philippines RMHC “Bright Minds Read” program to 20 additional cities reaching more than 900 elementary schools.

— Robert Korzeniowski from Warsaw, Poland – a renowned athlete who, after overcoming a serious rheumatic illness when he was a teenager, went on to win four Olympic gold medals in race walking. Robert now serves as a member of the Board of RMHC Poland and is an active supporter of World Children’s Day.

— Barbara Nelms from Pensacola, Florida – a long-time volunteer and supporter of RMHC who has logged over 700 volunteer hours at her local Ronald McDonald House. It is the support of volunteers like Barbara that makes Ronald McDonald Houses a true ‘home away from home.’

— Jessie Rodriguez from Hazelton, Pennsylvania – a 16-year-old liver transplant survivor who benefited from RMHC services during her diagnosis and recovery, living for periods of time at the Delaware Ronald McDonald House since she was ten years old. She is now sharing her story of hope to help others.

Friends of RMHC:

As part of the day’s activities, RMHC President and CEO Marty Coyne introduced a new dimension to the Friends of RMHC program, with high-profile entertainers and sports figures joining the ranks as volunteers.

Two of the Friends, Panettiere and Ne-Yo, are conducting a multi-city tour to visit children and families at a Ronald McDonald House, a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile and a children’s hospital. The tour began Monday in Dallas, continued to Detroit, and culminates after the New York global celebration with a stop in Philadelphia, where the first Ronald McDonald House opened in 1974.

“We are extremely grateful to our new Friends for using their visibility to raise awareness of RMHC and improve children’s lives around the world,” said Coyne.

Others joining the Friends of RMHC include: “Access Hollywood’s” Billy Bush; “ESPN’s” Trey Wingo; “Today Show’s” Al Roker; Supermodel Cindy Crawford; Celebrity stylist June Ambrose; Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis; Actor and TV host Mario Lopez; and Actress Dayanara Torres.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation, creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. Its programs are grassroots-driven to enable the Charity to offer help where children need it most: right in their own communities. RMHC makes an immediate, positive impact on children’s lives through its global network of local Chapters in nearly 50 countries and its three core programs: the Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. RMHC and its global network of local Chapters have awarded more than $440 million in grants and program services to children’s programs around the world. Since the Charity’s inception in 1974, McDonald’s has supported RMHC and its mission to improve the health and well being of children. For more information about RMHC visit

About McDonald’s

McDonald’s is the leading foodservice retailer with more than 30,000 local restaurants serving quality food to more than 52 million customers in more than 100 countries each day. Approximately 70 percent of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent, local men and women. For more information about World Children’s Day at McDonald’s visit

McDonald’s, World Children’s Day, the World Children’s Day logo, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room, RMHC, Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, and Give A Hand are trademarks of McDonald’s Corporation and its affiliates.

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World Children’s Day at McDonald’s Raises Millions to Help Children In Need