The First House
The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974 through the dedication of Fred Hill, a Philadelphia Eagles football player. After his daughter was treated for leukemia, he and his teammates partnered with a local McDonald’s operator to raise money to build a place for families with sick children to stay. There are now more than 315 Ronald McDonald Houses in 31 countries worldwide.
Our House was founded a few years later by a group of parents of children with cancer. This group was led by Dick and Penny Latham. The Lathams commuted back and forth from their home in Burlington, NC while their three-year-old son Alan was being treated for a rare cancer here at Brenner Children’s Hospital. They eventually moved to Winston-Salem to be closer to Alan and the hospital.
When Alan passed away in 1980 at age three, Dick and Penny asked his physician, Dr. Patterson, what they could do to help other families in need and honor Alan’s memory. Out of the conversations that followed, our House was born.
Our House was incorporated in 1981 as the Rainbow House of Winston-Salem. In 1984, the Owner-Operators of McDonald’s Restaurants here in NC became involved with the House and it was renamed “The Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem, Inc.” It originally opened with 10 bedrooms and was expanded to 17 bedrooms in 1997. The House extended its services by opening the first Ronald McDonald Family Room in North Carolina in Brenner Children’s Hospital in 2002. Designed to be an adult respite room, the Family Room offers a “home like” setting within the walls of the hospital. Forsyth Medical Center became home to our second Ronald McDonald Family Room in 2008. The House expanded to 35 bedrooms in September 2010.
Other Houses in North Carolina
Today, there are four other Ronald McDonald Houses in North Carolina. They are located in Durham, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, and Greenville.