Serving Michiana Families Since 2002
In 2002, under the guidance of our founders Kathleen and David Sparks, the Ronald McDonald House Family Room was opened inside of Memorial Hospital. The Family Room contained a living room, kitchen, a small library, washer and dryer, 3 overnight bedrooms and 2 restrooms with shower facilities – all within a 1500 sq. ft. space.
Between 2002 and 2017, the Family Room helped thousands of families remain close to their child. It became evident early-on that additional space would greatly benefit families as there was commonly a waiting list of more than 6 families a day all hoping to get into an overnight room in order to remain close to their children.
A Legacy of Caring
Our Family Room instantly became joined into the legacy of caring that Ronald McDonald House Charities represents across the globe. Working as a pediatric oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Audrey Evans saw families spend night after night in the hospital while their children received life-saving medical treatment. She knew there had to be a better way, and envisioned a simple house where families could stay during these stressful and uncertain times
At the same time, the Philadelphia Eagles were raising funds in support of player Fred Hill, whose daughter Kim was in treatment for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. When the Eagles General Manager Jimmy Murray approached St. Christopher’s about making a donation, Dr. Lawrence Naiman suggested there was an even greater need for funds resting with Dr. Evans. Jimmy Murray met Dr. Evans and quickly learned of her concept of a home for families. He reached out to McDonald’s with the idea that they could offer the proceeds from their Shamrock Shake sales to benefit this new house. McDonald’s agreed, and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was born on October 15, 1974.
Kathleen and David Sparks have dedicated their lives to enhance the Michiana Community since moving here in 1990. Kathleen started her career out of college working for the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. David started his career working at McDonald’s as a crew member while going to college. He went on to become a corporate employee at McDonald’s headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. He covered part of the U.S., Japan, and Asia for McDonald’s.
Kathleen co-founded KADA partnership with David when they moved to South Bend in 1990, buying just 3 restaurants. From that time until their retirement they built the organization into a company that owned and operated 21 restaurants and employed over 1,300 Michiana residents.
David sat on National board/committees for McDonald’s. Kathleen sat on the Global Advisory board in Oak Brook, Illinois, for the Ronald McDonald House Charity from 1999-2001. David and Kathleen served on many local boards as well during their time in South Bend.
Kathleen started her involvement with the charity in 1992, when she became the first local president and the first state President for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in Indiana in 1992. She opened one of the first Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in the country at Memorial Hospital in 2002. Together with the support of local McDonald’s owner/operators, Kathleen and David hosted the 2005 All-American Basketball games in South Bend, Indiana, with all proceeds going to the local RMHC chapters.
The Sparks have received many awards throughout their careers. In 2009 they were inducted into the South Bend Hall of Fame. They have also received the Gerry Newman Award, which is the highest Global RMHC award that is given to only one McDonald’s Owner in the world that year.
The Sparks legacy is to provide a home-away-from-home for families while their child is in the hospital.
A New Place to Call Home
In February of 2017, RMHC Michiana built upon the vision created by Kathleen and David Sparks by opening a brand new House inside the Skyway building connected to Memorial Hospital. With more than 15,000 sq. ft. of space, the new House offers 20 overnight bedroom suites, multiple laundry facilities, living rooms, dining rooms, a large open kitchen, pantry, community room and children’s play room.
In the new House, entire families can find rest and refreshment together while still remaining just steps away from their child’s hospital bed.
Thanks to the vision and leadership of the Board of Directors, the staff and volunteers, and our partnership with Beacon Children’s Hospital, this beautiful new home continues to give thousands of families precious extra time with their children to help them heal and rest in the comfort of knowing family will be by their side.
The 15,000 sq. ft Ronald McDonald House is a beautiful space that is meeting the needs of more families than ever before. Whether a family needs the support of Day Services or Overnight accommodations, RMHC Michiana offers the following amenities for all of our guests:
- 20 Overnight Guest Suites
- 2 Fully Stocked laundry facilities
- Fully Stocked restrooms and showers for day guests
- A hot meal prepared and served each evening at 6 p.m.
- Multiple living rooms with comfortable couches, TVs and DVD players
- Children’s playroom for siblings and outpatients
- The Coffee Cart, which visits Beacon Children’s Hospital daily to offer refreshments and comfort to patients and families
- The Hospitality Kiosk at Elkhart General Hospital is available for families of Pediatric patients