City of London celebrates its 24th McHappy Day
Credit: JESSICA EDEN
Mayor Matt Brown joins the Howe family at a local McDonald's restaurant to celebrate McHappy Day on May 3.
What made it even more special was that this year marked the 40th anniversary since the founding of the initiative, while the city of London has been participating for the past 24 years.
In honour of the day, the McDonald’s located at 959 Hamilton Road celebrated with a number of special guests including Mayor Matt Brown, London Knights players and executives, the Howe family, London McDonald’s restaurant owner operators and Tracey Keighley-Clarke, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Southwestern Ontario.
First established in 1977, McHappy Day raises money for Ronald McDonald House charities in Canada and other local charities and has since raised over $56 million for Canadian children.
“The purpose of McHappy Day is to raise as much funds and as much awareness for the Ronald McDonald children’s charities which supports the houses within the hospital and specifically here in London we’re supporting the Southwestern Ontario house and also supporting the new Windsor house,” Jason Lessif, one of the owners and operators of London McDonalds, said.
On McHappy Day, $1 from every Big Mac sandwich, Happy Meal and hot McCafé beverage purchased is donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada. Other means of fundraising throughout the year includes a donation of 10 cents from every Happy Meal and other local fundraisers.
Ronald McDonald houses help over 30,000 families each year live near their children that are being treated at nearby hospitals. The houses are a home away from home for families who have to travel far to receive medical care.
The Howe family accessed the Ronald McDonald house of Southwestern Ontario when their son Quinton was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) when he was four months old.
“It allowed us to have a balance of parenting between Quinton who is sick in the hospital and his other siblings and that’s so important as parents,” Quinton’s mother, Nicola Howe, said.
The house has the necessities of a regular home including a kitchen, laundry, internet, living room, backyard and also a place where families can connect with other families who are experiencing a similar situation. Warm meals were also provided each day which Howe said helped attribute to her and her husband’s “recovery”.
“When your child is sick it takes an emotional and physical strain on you and having a place like that where you can have your family close by, it’s so important to have that connection and keep that bond with your family because you need their strength to help you through those times,” Howe said.
Volunteer groups prepare meals while in-house volunteers perform house work to ensure the houses are prepared for guest families.
“The biggest thing is the awareness of what the charity does for families and how they help families. Just to bring to people’s attention that there’s a gap in the healthcare system that McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald children’s charities helps support,” Lessif said.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer, visit rmhc-swo.ca.
Mayor Matt Brown with owners and operators of London McDonald's restaurants CREDIT: JESSICA EDEN