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Hearts of Gold

Help families be BETTER TOGETHER.

2023 Hearts of Gold

Ronald McDonald House Charities exist all over the world because of the numerous community members that support the organization. However, there are two very specific partners that without whom, RMHC of Greater Chattanooga would not exist. These very special partners are our Mission Partner McDonald’s and Medical Partner Children’s Hospital at Erlanger.

The existence of RMHC started in 1974 when proceeds from the Shamrock Shake helped open the very first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia, PA. Soon after, the awareness of the benefits from a Ronald McDonald House rippled all over the country, with Houses opening to help even more families with children in the hospital. Today, there are 385 Ronald McDonald House chapters worldwide.

For Chattanooga, it all started in 1985 by a group of interested parents, community leaders, medical caregivers, and McDonald’s owner/operators. Many of these members had personal reasons for joining this effort. Jane Kaylor, founding CEO of RMHC of Greater Chattanooga, lost her daughter to a battle with leukemia in 1984. She deeply understood the need for a safe and comforting space for parents with children going through illness.

Other members from this initial group were from our McDonald’s family. Art Holekamp, Bill Moore, Ted Lyon and Hank Smith were more than McDonald’s owner/operators; they were fundraisers, dreamers, and change-makers. They each raised thousands of dollars to ensure the home away from home in Chattanooga came to life. And thankfully, the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House opened its doors to families with sick or injured children on November 18, 1990. McDonald’s continues to be our mission partner with their ongoing fundraising efforts in 55 area stores throughout the region.

Without the approval from Erlanger Health System, RMHC would not exist. When Erlanger was approached with the idea of building a Ronald McDonald House directly across their hospital, they not only approved the idea; they created a contract requiring RMHC to pay only $1 a year for the ground lease. Now, Erlanger donates thousands of dollars a year to sponsor and support the numerous fundraising events and campaigns that help hundreds of families at the Ronald McDonald House each year.

Six years after the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House opened, Erlanger, with major help from the Volunteer Auxiliary, gave approval for the Ronald McDonald Family Room to open on the third floor inside Children’s Hospital. The Family Room has been opened since 1996, providing a place to rest, take a shower, grab food and laundry services for anyone utilizing Erlanger’s services.

RMHC of Greater Chattanooga has been able to serve thousands of families and patients since 1990 because of these partners. Our 2023 Hearts of Gold ornament honors these main partners who directly help further the mission of providing a home and services of comfort and community for families.

McDonald’s and Children’s Hospital at Erlanger will forever hold a special place in Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga.

2023 Hearts of Gold Meaning:

The 2023 Hearts of Gold ornament represents the 30+ years of support from McDonald’s and Erlanger.

Thank you for supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga & helping families stay close to their sick child.