In 1973, Fred Hill, a Philadelphia Eagles NFL player, had a child stricken with cancer. He met many others with ill children who had traveled far for similar pediatric medical treatment. These families had nowhere close to the hospital to stay and could not afford hotels. Fred decided to do something about this, and in partnership the Eagles, the Children’s Hospital and McDonald’s, he created the nation’s first Ronald McDonald House.
Our Ronald McDonald House was a vision conceived in 1979 by a collaboration of three Albuquerque hospitals, medical groups, private citizens, and the Junior League of Albuquerque. Seed funding ($25,000) from McDonald’s Ray Kroc Fund was just the beginning. The group incorporated and established a volunteer board. The Junior League pledged time and money to build the House. Following extensive real estate searches, a 50-year lease was awarded by the UNM Board of Regents for the present site on North Campus. The Ronald House opened on October 30, 1982 with eight guest rooms. Eighteen months following the opening, the House was already too small and plans began to expand to meet the community need for family services. By December 1985, 10 bedrooms, 10 baths, a large living room, 2 solariums, more laundry space, and another kitchen were added.
In March 1996, we began serving the community as Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico (RMHC-NM) with a mission to provide temporary housing to families with ill children. In 2007 we opened the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UNM Children’s Hospital, where we provide respite services outside the walls of the Ronald McDonald House.
In 2008 we completed the latest House Expansion by increasing the number of family guestrooms from 18 to 30. The House now has the capacity to provide over 10,000 family lodging nights annually.
Over the last several years, demand for RMHC-NM’s support has increasingly exceeded its capacity, which means more and more families who hope to stay at the House are turned away because it is full. To address this critical need, in Fall 2020, a second Ronald McDonald House facility will open across the street from Presbyterian Hospital within a Marriot SpringHill Suites Hotel. This first-of-a-kind endeavor will provide an additional 20 guest rooms to our lodging program, allowing RMHC-NM to serve an additional 640 families annually.