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Runners raise $60,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities

Hundreds of people from across the Lakeland laced up their running shoes to give children in the region a home away from home.
Participants take off in the second annual run for RMHCNA in Cold Lake.
Participants take off in the second annual run for RMHCNA in Cold Lake.

Hundreds of people from across the Lakeland laced up their running shoes to give children in the region a home away from home.

The second annual Run for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northern Alberta (RMHCNA) was a huge success - raising $60,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Northern Alberta (RMHNA). Held on May 7 in Cold Lake, funds from the event will have an impact on local families utilizing the house.

One of those families is Margaret Bauman's. Her oldest daughter, who is now 23, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at the age of 10. A year later, she relapsed. The family travelled down to Calgary where she had a bone marrow transplant.

It was there the family got to experience the Ronald McDonald House.

"It was a place to call home. Everybody that was with you there became family and we still connect with a lot of the families," said Bauman. "It was somewhere familiar; someplace to connect, cook, and be a family. It was something normal."

Over 100 families from the Lakeland alone have utilized the house. In 2014, local families stayed the equivalent of 780 nights at the RMHNA. The house helped save those families over $202,000 in hotel and food costs for the year.

Of course, keeping the 42,000-sq. ft. building running doesn't come cheap. While the McDonald's Corporation covers a small per cent of the facility's operating budget, it costs roughly $7,000 per night ($2.5 million each year) to keep it going.

Thanks to events such as the Run for RMHCNA, Bauman said it has come a long way since her family took up residence in a Ronald McDonald House.

"The support towards Ronald McDonald House has grown tremendously since we were there. When we were there, there was one room to share with two bed and five of us. There was a communal bathroom and we had our chores," she recounted.

Bauman added, "The space they have for the families now is incredible. As well as taking the families to the hospital - we never had that - the meals they have for the families is incredible. Just within the community, there was no one for us to connect with when we were here. Now there's a support system for the families, which is very much needed."

In an effort to be more visible in the Lakeland, the first annual run was held last year with around 330 people participating. After a great inaugural year, the event took-off. This year, there were over 500 people registered and 90 volunteers for the run.

"It's incredible. We have people from all over the region - Elk Point, St. Paul, Bonnyville, Lac La Biche, Edmonton," said Oreen Skiba, manager for RMHCNA. "Our second highest fundraiser is an eight-year-old boy from Elk Point whose cousin had to utilize the house."

Another successful run behind them, Skiba expressed they're already looking forward to next year. Ideally, they would like to expand the run into other communities in order to attract more people.

The RMHCNA is also gearing up for their next annual event, the summer golf tournament on June 18 at the Cold Lake Golf and Winter Club.

For more information, visit rmhcna.org.