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30th annual McHappy Day: Supporting B.C. families with sick children

Click to play video: 'McDonalds to mark 30th McHappy Day'
McDonalds to mark 30th McHappy Day
Wednesday, May 8, 2024, marked the 30th year of celebrating McHappy Day. Taya Fast spoke with one local family who spent over a year at Ronald McDonald House and continues to support the charity. – May 7, 2024

Wednesday marked the 30th of McHappy Day, a day annually dedicated to rallying behind families with sick kids across Canada.

On every McHappy Day at McDonald’s restaurants, a portion of proceeds from all menu items sold that day go towards Ronald McDonald’s House Charities (RMHC) and other children’s charities.

“McHappy Day is probably the biggest fundraiser that we have of the year, because it’s participatory for the whole province,” said Richard Pass, Ronald McDonald House B.C. and Yukon CEO.

“The funds come in and support the families. There are 73 families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House every night and it’s about 2,000 families a year that we serve.”

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Paying it forward with parking tickets

McHappy Day helps support day-to-day operations at Ronald McDonald House, including one in Vancouver and the Ronald McDonald Family Room in Surrey.

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According to RMH, 150 communities in B.C., were supported by Ronald McDonald House Charities programs in 2023, saving families more than $8.4 million annually in out-of-pocket expenses, such as accommodation, meals and travel.

“We have two campaigns right now; our current one is the annual campaign which is where McHappy Day goes to,” said Ross.

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“We opened our house 10 years ago and we’re in the process right now of raising funds to build a second house that will double our capacity to serve about 150 families a night. A lot of the families stay 150 nights to two years at a time, and so we need to expand to turn away fewer families.”

The annual day hits close to home for families like the Relvas from Kelowna, who spent over 380 days at the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver.

In 2016, Lindsay and Adam Relvas’ three-year-old son, Anthony, was suddenly diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

“We were flown to Vancouver, not knowing where we were going to be, where people were going to stay and honestly what life was even going to look like,” said Lindsay Relvas.

“But I’ll never forget the day that our social worker told us that we had gotten a space at Ronald McDonald House.

“I truly, actually, have no idea what we would have done. We stayed there over two years. We did get to come home once in a while, but knowing we had somewhere close to the hospital when an emergency would arise, we were right there.”

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Click to play video: 'McHappy Day in support of Ronald McDonald House'
McHappy Day in support of Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House became their home away from home while Anthony received lifesaving treatment.

“There’s playrooms, there’s outside areas and groups come in and cook meals for you so that when you’re just too tired to cook, it’s like they take care of you,” said Lindsay Relvas.

“Ronald McDonald House truly takes care of you. I believe it’s the best place you never want to have to stay.”

The Kelowna family has now become dedicated supporters of the charity.

The Relvas are involved every McHappy Day by volunteering at their local McDonald’s, and they’ve raised funds around Christmas. And last year, the family helped raise $50,000 through a dream rally.

“Something that we were adamant about when we got out and our son completed his treatment, was that we wanted to make sure that we could do everything in our power to make sure that that house was still there for other families that needed it,” said Adam Relvas.

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“We know how much of a resource it is and how much of a relief it was to have that place to stay and to relieve that financial burden. We had a place that we can kind of put some roots down and you’re surrounded by families and people who understand what you’re going through.”

Anthony is now cancer-free, and he and his family continue to support McHappy Day as Ronald McDonald House has supported them.

Click to play video: 'McHappy Day: Supporting families with sick children'
McHappy Day: Supporting families with sick children

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