Why you Should Support the RBC Race for the Kids Minnesota Half Marathon and 5K
There is a house near the University of Minnesota campus I have run by countless times. You have too if you ever run on that part of East River Road. It’s about a block from the trail (just before the I-94 overpass). The big playground in front is hard to miss.
There is a man who sits on a bench there, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, welcoming people in. He has red hair and a fashionable all-yellow jumpsuit. This clown is unmistakable, because it is a statue of Ronald McDonald.
I am embarrassed to admit that although I have run by the Ronald McDonald House on Oak Street innumerable times, I didn’t know what RMHC did outside of collecting “pop tabs.”
I recently learned about RMHC, because I was researching the “grand prize” at this year’s RBC Race for the Kids Minnesota Half Marathon and 5K. Ronald McDonald House, Upper Midwest continues its partnership with race organizers and RBC to provide a 3 night trip to the Grand Cayman Marathon in December. That sounds awesome… who wouldn’t want to run that?
After talking with one of the race organizers, I realized there is a much more interesting story here than just a free trip to run around an island in the Caribbean.
Below is a brief story about the RMHC-UM, and how you could help provide some much needed support to families in crisis.
What is Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest?
Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest supports families. In partnership with their community, RMHC-UM provides a home-away-from home that supports keeping families together and reduces stress during a child’s serious illness. They take care of life’s everyday needs (eating, sleeping, washing, education, entertainment, etc.) so families can focus on taking care of their kids.
I spoke with Libby Utter, VP of Development for RMHC-UM, who said their goal is to help families by, “taking away every worry so they can focus on the health of their child…”
The first house (the one we run by on Oak Street) opened in 1979. It was a small, 8 room boarding house, able to host 8 families. Today, that facility has grown to accommodate 48 families every night. 95% of the time it is completely full. In the past 36 years, they have expanded to three programs all over the Twin Cities, with a fourth to open summer of 2015. Each year, these facilities serve nearly 4,000 families.
Maybe you have run by one:
- Ronald McDonald House Oak Street – rooms for 48 families with children receiving care at one of their hospital partners (U of MN Masonic Children’s Hospital; Children’s Hospitals & Clinics – Minneapolis or Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare). Long stays here largely due to the severity of the illness and the treatments available at U of MN Masonic Children’s Hospital (bone marrow and other solid organ transplants).
- Ronald McDonald House inside Children’s Hospitals & Clinics, Minneapolis has 15 overnight rooms plus common areas available for families with children in nearby intensive care units.
- Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare has 4 overnight rooms plus common areas for all inpatients of Gillette. This serves the pediatric trauma and pediatric disability populations.
- The Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, St. Paul is scheduled to open this summer. This will also provide 4 overnight rooms, plus common areas for families with children receiving treatment in the hospital’s intensive care units.
The cost of one night is about $95, but “families are never required to pay for our services – including lodging, meals, schooling and more – ,” says Utter, “so we rely on our generous community to support our efforts. Many families do give back to RMHC-UM by coming back to volunteer and some raise and donate funds on our behalf as well.”
The only way they are able to offer this type of service is because of the incredible donations they receive. Be that financial commitments, physical items or time. Utter says,
We rely on our mission partner, McDonald’s, corporate partners, our community partners and generous individuals who are willing to donate, volunteer and raise money on behalf of the families we are honored to serve… some people think, ‘oh, McDonald’s just gives you a bunch of money…’ While we are extremely thankful and grateful for their support, that’s just one piece of it.
About a year ago, RBC approached RMHC-UM to partner on raising money for the organization. With a corporate value and commitment to children’s health issues, it made sense.
Cally Scholtec who is a Sponsorship Consultant with RBC in the Twin Cities said,
At RBC, we promote involvement in the communities in which we live and work. One of our key focus areas is health, especially children’s health. So naturally Ronald McDonald House Charities is a perfect partner for us in Minneapolis.
2015 will be the second year of the partnership between the Minnesota Half Marathon, RBC and RMHC-UM. 2014 was a tremendous success. There were 3,100 runners (up 600 from the year before), and in 2015, they are hoping for 5,000.
RBC has seen great success in fundraising through races around the country. Runners are a generous bunch. Partnering with a race organization is a tremendous way to raise support. Utter says, “Unbelievably we were able to identify a race, brand it, and raise some money.”
In 2014, they set a goal to raise $25,000 and exceeded that when they raised over $40,000! Utter said, “It exceeded our expectations on every level. Podium Sports (race organizers) were a huge help in us pulling this off.” This year, they have set a goal to bring in $60,000 for the families served by RMH.
Here is how you can help (and maybe win a trip to Cayman Islands in the process).
How You can Get Involved
Raising money for this is simple. Create a profile on RBC Race for the Kids’ Group Give page. They provide templates for everything. After you personalize the letter, enter your contacts, hit send and wait. Everything is tracked through the site, and you can even send follow up and thank you notes.
The top individual fundraiser by 6:00 p.m. CST on July 31st, 2015 will receive round trip airfare for two from MSP to Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman, 3 night accommodation at the Westin Grand Cayman on beautiful 7 Mile Beach, and two registration entries for the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon (or half marathon).
If you need a free half marathon training plan, grab ours here!
Where the Money Goes
RMHC-UM has a $3.3 million operating budget. Utter says this comes from, “loyal individual donors, corporations and foundations. In addition, we receive $450,000 in in-kind donations and another $1.2MM in volunteer hours.” They do an amazing job of managing those resources. I asked how much of every dollar goes directly to helping families?
…the industry standard is 70/30. 70% goes to mission, 30% to fundraising, overhead, etc. Over the past several years, we’re closer to 80/20 if you add in all of the donated items as well as volunteer hours, we are able to give back almost $5MM in services on a $3MM budget.
They can do this because of the massive amount of volunteers and all levels of donations –even the smallest make a difference. Utter couldn’t stop saying how huge this is for them to be able to provide what they do. Groups from RBC (and many others) bring in food, cook the food, and serve families on a nightly basis. “We couldn’t do it without those volunteer hours.” she says.
Sometimes it helps knowing how much money it takes to provide various services. If you think you can’t raise enough to compete for the grand prize, here is what your smaller donations will do:
- $25 covers five loads of laundry (including detergent, dryer sheets and stain remover) or school lunches for a week
- $50 buys bath towels for a family
- $95 pays for a family to stay one night at Oak Street (lodging, food, schooling, other activities, wifi)
- $100 pays for Book Club at the RMH School (where volunteers read books to the kids and purchases lunch)
- $500 covers 6 months of field trips for the kids
- $1,000 pays the cost of flu shots for all families staying with us
Why I Care About This (and Why You Might Too)
I am not connected to RMHC-UM or associated in any way. That said, my son just turned two. When he was born, he had some very mild complications that caused us to go back to the hospital for about 36 hours. He is great now, but it was a scary time.
I like knowing that RMH exists, and is in our backyard. I like knowing there is an organization dedicated to taking away every worry so we can focus on the health of our kids. If you watch any of the stories on their YouTube channel, you can’t help but be moved, if you have kids or not.
Learning more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest made me want to find another way to help. I am interested in creating a Minneapolis Running team of volunteers. If you would like to be part of this, email me here, and let’s figure something out. There is no plan yet, but if enough of you are interested, we will organize a time to see how we might serve.
About the RBC Race for the Kids Minnesota Half Marathon and 5K
If you are looking for a late summer half marathon, the RBC Race for the Kids Minnesota Half Marathon and 5K is a fun one. This half marathon, 2 person half relay, skate, 5k and 1k kids run is on Saturday, August 6, 2016. The beautiful course runs up and down Shepard Rd, along the river in St. Paul. NEW in 2016 – the race will run in reverse due to construction.
This race is great because it is an out and back, so you get lots of time with spectators. You’ll find some live bands, and plenty of water stops. There are a few tough hills, but also some flat spots and a great downhill. The next price increase in June 17th, when it goes up to $60. Read our 2014 recap.
Learn more about the Minnesota Half Marathon, and how you can partner to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest.