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 300 Ronald McDonald Houses located in 30 countries and regions world-wide.

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.

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.

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.