Home / Celebrating 25 Years—Our First House!

When a child is seriously ill, families face extensive medical treatment, hectic schedules and financial burdens, the Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a sanctuary for families during such a difficult time regardless of their financial situations. 

The first RMH in Orlando opened 25 years ago on the campus of AdventHealth for Children (formerly Florida Hospital) in 1996. Our sunny-yellow, three-story House is a short walk to the hospital, located on land donated by AdventHealth for Children. We strive to make the House a true home-away-from-home for the families who stay here. There are 23 bedrooms with private bathrooms, a kitchen and dining area, laundry room, play room, and living room.

Each guest family also has an immediate support system of other families, staff and volunteers.  

Our First Family

When Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Florida first opened on December 13, 1996, we welcomed the first family—the Dvoirshajas, who traveled all the way from the Ukraine so little Valeriya could be treated at the major burn unit of (then) Florida Hospital Children, now known as AdventHealth for Children!

A Peek Behind the Door

Each of our Ronald McDonald Houses is truly unique. Our first House is home to our stunning fish tank provided and cared for by SeaWorld. The tank features three different types of fish, including 54 glow fish! However, our fish are not our only animal friends. Our RMH on the campus of AdventHealth for Children also frequently has pet therapy for our guest families. Sweet pup, Gidget, and owner Nani (pictured below) love to visit and meet families staying in our Houses!

The Gericke Family

Mallory was born with an anoxic brain injury and spent three months in the NICU. After three life-saving surgeries and several tests later, she was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

When Mallory needed intensive therapy, her family traveled more than 1,100 miles from Manhattan, Illinois to Florida Hospital in Winter Park and stayed at our Ronald McDonald House.

Mallory’s mom, Kristina, said the thing that meant the most to her family was all the love and support they received during their stays at RMH.

“We were immediately welcomed with open arms. It was so nice to feel welcomed and to know that we were not alone in our journey,” said Kristina. Kristina remembered returning from Mallory’s therapy sessions and talking with other families at the House. “It was inspiring to hear other guests’ stories and to be in a place where people just understood how it feels when your child needs extra medical care,” she said.

One of the things that truly touched the Gericke family was all kind words they received from the staff. “Everyone was always so pleased to see Mallory and to know how she did at her therapy that day. She felt like a celebrity!” said Kristina.

Staff Spotlight

Another unique element to our Houses is the staff that keeps our doors open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. At our House on the campus of AdventHealth for Children, one of our staff members goes above and beyond—Resident Manager, Michael.

Michael has been with RMHCCF for over one year, and can often be found doing projects around the House, or driving our RMHCCF van. He also lives onsite at the House, and is able to lend a helping hand to our guest families whenever needed!