Ronald McDonald House Running Club Classic 5K Race this Sunday
Friday, October 04, 2013
The annual race raises not only funds for the Ronald McDonald House in Providence, it brings attention to the mission of the organization, which is to provide programs that directly improve the health and well-being of hospitalized children and their families -- and shines a light on the popular athletic club that supports it.
Veteran club member and leader Rick Ripley told GoLocal, "I admit that at first I thought the Ronald McDonald House was probably a front for pushing more hamburgers, and it might be like helping Donald Trump clean his image or something. I was so wrong… The House really focuses on the families of sick and recovering children; people with basic and immediate needs like breakfast and dinner and a bed near the hospital. It’s not cancer research or brain surgery or anything exotic, just basic care and caring. It feels good to be a small part of that."
Club Origins -- and Growth
"Seven years ago, Coach Bob Rothenberg approached my husband Jon Hird and me about forming a club to provide area runners and walkers with coaching and camaraderie, while also increasing the visibility of the Ronald McDonald House of Providence. After some strategizing, we held a meeting for anyone interested," said Hird.
"Before the meeting, Bob, Jon and I each ventured a guess as to how many people would show up, with Bob’s guess of 27 being the highest," she continued. "We were astounded when over 50 people came, and by midsummer, the club had grown to almost 100 members. Since that first season, the club has grown to about 200 members, of all experience levels and ranging in age from 12 to 84 years old."
"Within the group, there are marathoners, triathletes, 5k and 10k runners, sprinters, and walkers, some with decades of experience and others just starting out. Club support for the House includes financial support from the Women’s Classic, hands-on volunteer work, cooking dinners for House guests, and many other individual contributions of time and talent," said Hird of the Club's involvement with the nonprofit.
Club's Impact on the House
"The financial impact is huge," said Fantom. "The Classic alone over the 6 years has brought in more than $200,000 which provides support for 2,000 families (at $100 per night per room, we ask families to donate $10 a night per room).
"The desire of any non profit is to be known and embraced by the community they aim to serve," he continued. "The running club allows the [House] a lot of publicity and promotional opportunities. So many races around RI, MA and CT….all with Members wearing RMH shirts."
The club also supports the House by participating in the meal program, when runners, spearheaded by club veteran Marnee Colburn, help the House by bringing in a potluck dinner for the house residents. "The program is huge," said Fantom of the volunteer dinners, noting that on Tuesday night, the "RBS Citizens legal team were cooking dinner."
Coaches as Key to Success
"Both Bob and Anne as well as Jon Hird and Jon Barnes...they all add tremendous credibility and dedication to the club environment," said Fantom. "The consistency, commitment and quality of the coaching allows the club to maintain a base of around 200 members as core, rising to nearly 300. To join the club you have to visit the RMH on Gay Street to meet Bob. There is no one more dedicated to our mission than Bob. As a runner or walker you do not have to be committed to our mission. You do have to be aware that we exist to support the core mission work we provide."
The club's esteemed coaches, who were recently recognized by club members at a reception for their continued dedication, have a pedigreed running past. At the helm are Bob and Anne Rothenberg, both longtime track and cross-country coaches at Brown University who provided GoLocal with the story of how they came to help form the club.
"In 2002 when we were still coaching T&F/XC at Brown, we decided to volunteer somewhere for Thanksgiving," they said. "The House was one of the few places looking for people to get involved rather than having money donated. We offered our services, but what they really needed was for a volunteer to stay overnight. We agreed, and then became monthly 24-hour shift relief managers on the weekend."
"It didn't take us long to recognize what a wonderful place the RMHP was in providing a home-away-from-home for families with children hospitalized locally. We continued this volunteer role for 3 years, and then Anne was hired as the part-time volunteer coordinator and Bob was asked to chair the annual walk festival. In talking with friends and family, it became clear that many people had heard of the Ronald McDonald House but didn't really understand the mission. They also assumed that McDonald's covered the House's budget completely. So why was there a need to raise money to support the House."
Time Still to Run, Walk on Sunday
Interested participants in the all-women's event can still register tomorrow, Saturday, October 5, from 8am-12pm at Rhode Runner at 657 North Main Street in Providence, or else sign up on Sunday, October 6, from 8:00-9:30, before the race at Brown University Stadium, 400 Elmgrove Avenue, in Providence.
Note: Reporter Kate Nagle is a member of the Ronald McDonald House Running Club.
- NEW: Fundraiser for Padwa’s Marathon Run for Ronald McDonald House
- Annual Oyster Festival to Benefit Ronald McDonald House