2014 Class Gift
The Class of 2014 is starting a St. Thomas Day with Ronald House Families, Paving the Way Foundation. All of the money the Class of 2014 raises will be used to fund an annual event for the families living at the Ronald House, where St. Thomas students will spend the day with the families outside of their normal atmosphere. As a school built on public service, the Class of 2014 would like to leave a lasting legacy of giving back to the community and bringing a sense of normalcy into the lives of the children battling for their lives and the families who have dropped everything to be by their side.
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The students of St. Thomas University School of Law first became involved with the Ronald McDonald House in the fall of 2012 when then Student Bar Association Senator and Chair of the Pro Bono Committee, Ulyana Altbregen organized a group of students to participate in what is known as the “Adopt-a-Meal” program. Those who participate in this program prepare a meal for the families residing in the Ronald McDonald House. This alleviates one of the daily stresses that the families experience while they care for their children. Volunteers are able to take a tour of the House to learn how it is funded and works. In addition, volunteers also have an opportunity to meet the families and the children residing in the House.
Since the first time our students participated in the “Adopt-a-Meal” program, the Student Bar Association has strived to make this a monthly event. Numerous times students have gone either to the Miami House or the Ft. Lauderdale House and prepared a meal for the families residing there. Often times while preparing dinner, students have bonded with the families in the House whether it be by speaking to the parents or playing with the children. The families are always gracious and happy to see our students despite the difficulties they are facing.
It is their smiling faces that led the St. Thomas University School of Law Class of 2014 to make a gift in their honor. This year, in an effort to achieve one of the goals of the Ronald McDonald House Foundation, to keep the spirits of those who reside in the House high and to bring some sense of normalcy to the children who must battle for their health, the students have organized a day trip to the Miami Zoo.
The trip took place on April 6th, 2014 where students from the 2014 graduating class spent the day out with the Ronald House Families from both the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami houses. It is the Class of 2014’s hope that this is only the beginning and that we have started a foundation that future graduating classes will continue on. This token to the families will help to culminate the bond, which the graduating class of 2014 has paved. A bond that the Class of 2014 hopes will be unbreakable.
History of the Ronald McDonald House
The Ronald McDonald House is a temporary lodging facility for families of children that are being treated at near by hospitals. The first house was built in 1973, in Philadelphia. Fred Hill was one of the driving forces to help open the first house. Fred Hill was an Eagles football player, his daughter was diagnosed with cancer, and he did the same thing that the families that reside at any of the 327 Ronald McDonald Houses do today, that is he sought the best medical treatment for his young daughter. During his daughter’s early stages of her illness, Fred traveled from place to place in search of the best doctor. Fortunately his daughter’s health improved, and soon after Fred and his daughter decided that they needed to do something to help other families that have to go through the same process of searching extensively for critical medical help.
Together with the Eagles organization, and the local McDonald owner’s, Fred and his daughter were able to fundraise enough money to build the very first house. The common misconception is that the McDonald’s corporation funds the Ronald McDonald House. This is not the case, each Ronald McDonald House is independently funded by donations, and fundraising events.
Along with giving families a “home away from home” the charity also strives to keep the spirits of the parents and siblings high while their loved ones get the treatment they need for their delicate situation. The Ronald McDonald House serves families from within the United States as well as worldwide. It is through efforts from volunteer groups that the Ronald McDonald House has been able to remain open for over 30 years in South Florida.