Groundbreaking ceremony at Ronald McDonald House

WAUWATOSA (WITI) – Families of hospitalized children, friends and even Ronald McDonald himself took part in a ceremonial ground-breaking event on Thursday, April 18th at the Milwaukee Ronald McDonald House.  The joyful group celebrated the start of a $10 million construction project that will increase the size of the current facility by 26,480 square feet, almost doubling the size of the building by Summer 2014.

Located at 8948 W. Watertown Plank Road across from the Milwaukee County Medical Complex, the RMH currently has 38 rooms for families of hospitalized children receiving treatment at Milwaukee-area hospitals.  The new construction will nearly double the size of the RMH to 70 guest rooms so that no family will be turned away in their time of crisis. When completed, the Milwaukee RMH will be one of the largest in the world.

The RMH has been planning for the expansion since 2007 and has raised approximately $7 million through a capital campaign, chaired by Maureen and Ken Manning.  The final $3 million needs to be raised over the next 18 months of construction.  Potential donors can go to for more information about the organization, its expansion and learn how to make a tax-deductible gift.

Due to the growth of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the RMH has been running at full capacity for over four years.  In 2012 alone, the RMH was unable to accommodate over 600 families in need.

“It is heartbreaking to have turned away so many families because we did not have a room when they needed one,” said Ann Petrie, president and CEO of the RMH.  “Our board and staff have been working tirelessly for six years to make this day a reality and we are beyond thrilled that construction has begun.”

In addition to the private guest rooms, the construction plans also include new common areas such as study rooms for long-term patients, siblings and adults to keep up with homework or re-connect with work; music therapy and fitness facilities to help families relax and manage stress; and re-modeled kitchens and dining areas for families to sit down after a long day at the hospital and unwind with a home-cooked meal. 

“The Ronald McDonald House is more than just a place with a bed and a pillow; it’s a place where families who are facing life’s greatest challenges can lean on one another and gain support,” said Board of Directors Chairperson Bob Monday.   “I have no doubt that the spirit and emotion of today’s ceremony will become part of the foundation of our new House and will be felt by thousands of families for many years to come.”

Part of the expansion effort included the purchase of 3.5 acres of land from Milwaukee County.  “Before acquiring more land, the board considered building upward, which would diminish the ‘home away from home’ feel of the House. With the additional land, we can now expand in a way that will maintain architectural consistency,” Petrie added.

Since the doors opened in 1984, more than 34,000 families from throughout Wisconsin, the United States and 26 foreign countries have called the Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee home.  Families can stay as long as they need while their children are receiving treatment at any Milwaukee-area hospital.  A donation of $10 per night is requested, however, even that is too much for most families. Thanks to the efforts of 500-plus volunteers and generous donors, no one is turned away due to inability to pay.