How it All Began
In 1973, Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill and his wife, Fran, learned that their daughter, Kim, had leukemia. While traveling into Philadelphia for treatment at the children's hospital, they met other families in the same situation. These families drove hours to the hospital to be with their children, only to sleep overnight in waiting room chairs and to eat from vending machines because they had nowhere else to go.
Fred Hill and his football team decided to do something for these families... build them a "home-away-from-home" in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Eagles teamed up with local McDonald's Owner/Operators to raise money to purchase and restore a house near the hospital where these families could stay. Hence, the first Ronald McDonald House was born. Since that time, more than 300 Houses have been built worldwide.
The first Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis opened in July of 1981 with seed money from local McDonald's Owner/Operators and donations from corporations, organizations, individuals and foundations.
The original House on West Pine Blvd. underwent two expansions over the years, increasing the number of bedrooms to 20. In April of 1996, a second House on Park Avenue was opened, and in 2003, eight apartments were made available for long-term stays. In 2010, a third Ronald McDonald House, and the 300th in the world, was built to serve West County hospitals. In 2013, our West Pine location underwent a $1.5 million renovation, making the House a more comfortable, energy-efficient place for families to stay while their children are undergoing medical treatment at a St. Louis-area hospital.
In 2013, Ronald McDonald House Charities® of St. Louis partnered with the Eye Care Charity of Mid-America to provide on-the-spot eye exams and glasses to children through the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which is staffed by licensed optometrists, travels to schools throughout the Greater St. Louis area, where the need for eye care is greatest due to low household income.
Since we first opened our doors in 1981, more than 30,000 families from all over the U.S. and the globe have found comfort and care from the services and hospitality provided by our volunteers and staff.