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About Us

Mission & History of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida

Who We Are

Our Mission

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida is to love and support families of children with medical needs by giving them a place to call home.

We believe when families are together, they cope better. We believe no family should have to deal with their child’s medical crisis alone. And that was the beginning of our unique role as a children’s charity, enabling, supporting, and facilitating family-centered care.

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is simple – nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest. That’s why Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida strives to be the best home-away-from-home for families who travel to Pensacola to receive critical medical treatment for their children. Since opening in 1984, we have served 29,000+ families.

Our History

The Ronald McDonald House


The First Ronald McDonald House – Philadelphia, PA 1974

In 1974 the first Ronald McDonald House opened its doors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time Kim Hill, the daughter of Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill, was undergoing treatment for leukemia. Throughout Kim’s treatment, her father recognized the need for a supportive environment away from the hospital for families of seriously ill children. He enlisted the aid of his teammates and local McDonald’s restaurant owners to raise funds that would help purchase and renovate the first Ronald McDonald House.


The first Ronald McDonald House was named, not only because of McDonald’s fund-raising support but also for the positive, hopeful, and fun-loving feeling Ronald McDonald was able to instill into the minds of so many children.


Today there are over 375+ Ronald McDonald House programs, 265+ Ronald McDonald Family Room programs, and 45+ Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs.


The History of Pensacola House

In 1981, Dr. Reed Bell, who was Director of Pediatric Services at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, initiated the quest to build a “Home-Away-From-Home” for families of hospitalized children. After making an inquiry through McDonald’s local agency, a feasibility study was conducted by the National Ronald House Advisory Board, with local McDonald’s restaurants and Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital making the commitment to support the project.


Gulf Coast Children’s Medical Foundation, Inc.

In November of 1981, a group of dedicated volunteers formed the Gulf Coast Children’s Medical Foundation, Inc. (name was later changed to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida, Inc.) to organize and support the House. Dr. Bell was the driving force behind the House and with the help of McDonald’s restaurant owners and the community, the 6-bedroom house opened its doors in 1984 and served 271 families.


Family Room Opened

In the Spring of 2019, we opened our Family Room located on the 2nd floor within the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart. Families are just steps away from their child’s bedside. Our Family Room features 3 sleeping rooms each with a private bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, dining room, living room, playroom, laundry facility, quiet room, and an additional bathroom and shower for families.

Virtual Tour


Nearly 30 years later…

Nearly 30 years later, we have relocated to our current 26-bedroom house and now annually serve over 1,000 families. In addition to overnight accommodations, we provide respite services and supplemental programs to assist with healing, dental, vision and other healthcare needs of families staying at the House. Our House was built for the community- for families just like yours who thought, “It’ll never happen to me.” Our House endures because of the community- donors, sponsors, friends and volunteers who are able to help families in need.

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