History of the House

RMH-signThe first Ronald McDonald House was established in 1974 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after a Philadelphia Eagles football player’s daughter was treated for cancer. He recognized the plight of families less fortunate who had to travel great distances for their child’s treatment. McDonald’s owner/operators made the first house possible through proceeds from the sale of Shamrock Shakes. The concept quickly resonated with others who began to team up with McDonald’s restaurants to provide Ronald McDonald Houses in other cities.

In the years before Ronald McDonald House Akron (RMHA) opened its doors, Bill Considine, current CEO and President of Akron Children’s Hospital, saw countless weary parents sleeping on cramped waiting room chairs and even on the floor in order to be near a sick child. Through his determination, vision and leadership, our 20-bedroom, 17,000 square foot House became a reality.

In 1982, M.G. O’Neil, Chairman of General Tire and Rubber Company, became the first capital campaign chairman. The project was given a jumpstart by pledges from the Akron Children’s Hospital Women’s Board, local McDonald’s restaurants and our remarkably generous community. Over $1.8 million was raised for the House and it was built debt-free. While there were many large pledges, the fund drive was “largely a community venture with hundreds of businesses, organizations and individuals pitching in to make the dream possible.”

Since January 13 1985, RMHA has provided comfort, support and resources for families with sick children just steps from the hospital.  Akron Children’s Hospital has experienced significant growth over the years making it the largest pediatric health care provider in Northeast Ohio. With more families to serve and an ever growing waiting list in April 2018 RMHA opened a 48,000 square foot expansion including 42 new guest rooms to keep even more families close through the biggest challenge of their lives.

In early 2019, exploration of a strategic alliance began with the formation of a joint task force of the four chapters serving areas of Northeast Ohio: Ronald McDonald House of Akron, Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania. The task force’s 18-month study concluded that a single, merged organization would serve more families, more effectively throughout the entire region.

In July 2020, the organizations united as Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio, Inc. (RMHC NEO). Through our Cleveland and Akron guest Houses, four Hospital Family Rooms, STAR Center, Care Mobile and family resource link RedTreehouse.org, we are able to help more families in more ways than ever before.