Perry Homes is the title sponsor for the Ronald McDonald House’s annual Red Shoe Classic, this year honoring state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., known for his golfing ability. Being held on Sept. 11 at McAllen’s Palm View Golf Course. McAllen airport Manager Phil Brown is sponsoring the luncheon barbecue and Morgan Stanley in McAllen will be the prize sponsor. A special event has been added this year on Friday at noon, Sept. 10.
Many people have heard of the charity but are not exactly sure what they do. For the Rio Grande Valley Chapter, covering from Brownsville to Raymondville and over to Mission, it means a place of refuge, serving children and families of the Rio Grande Valley in the time of a child’s crisis in a medical facility or hospital.
“In our facility in Harlingen, we have a home with six bedrooms, a living room, fully-stocked kitchen, and washer/dryer. It’s open 24 hours a day,” said Carol De Moss, development officer at the Ronald McDonald House. “People never know when that emergency is going to happen so we like to make a home away from home for them.”
Sitting across from the Valley Baptist hospital, local church groups, individuals, and school children make it their service project to help keep the home stocked and ready for the next families in need of their services. With no cost to the visitor, unless they can afford $10, the six bedrooms each are suites with bathrooms.
“If the child is in the hospital for months and the family has small children, we will enroll those children into a local school where they can have as normal an environment as possible during this crisis,” Carol said.
On the third floor of Edinburg’s Children Hospital are three Ronald McDonald House Rooms.
“We call them ‘nap rooms,’” said Gayle Reger, executive director of the Rio Grande Valley chapter. “Since there are beds in the children’s rooms for family member’s, the nap rooms are not an overnight facility.”
With 90 percent of the people served from the Valley, they are hoping to add several more family rooms across the Valley over the next five years, counting on funds from their fundraiser to assist them towards their goals.
“We rely 100 percent on public donations,” said Carol. “That’s why it’s so important we have as many people as possible come out and participate in both these benefits.”
Gayle and Carol are intimately aware of more than just these facts, making them work even harder to succeed.
“Back a couple of years ago we had a family that stayed with us 18 months because of a child in the hospital,” Gayle said. “With several other children, they actually had to move into our house and enroll their children in the local school. They didn’t have a lot of money, no car. We had to literally go out and find them clothes, backpacks, school supplies, things like that to help the other children. They were from Mission or McAllen — far enough away from home that they couldn’t go back and forth.”
Then there’s the story of the 16-year-old young lady in a major car accident in Brownsville. Because of the Ronald McDonald House, her dad could stay and be with her every day since she wasn’t expected to live.
“Today she will come with us to speak when we go to talk to the public. In a wheelchair with some brain damage, she still insists upon speaking about what the Ronald McDonald House meant to her father because he could be with her every day,” said Gayle.
Only a month ago there was another severe auto accident.
“The father was killed, one child air-lifted to Corpus Christi, one was in Valley Baptist,” Gayle said. “After the mother was released from the hospital, she came to stay at the house having the ordeal of the burial and two injured children. Staff members would stay up with her talking all night when she couldn’t sleep. Our staff is equipped to work with families during tragedies.”
“We see a lot of great things and we see tragedy too. But we’re there. That’s the important thing,” said Gayle. “When they have to go through that, at least we’re there.”
When Jessica Gallose, owner of The Learning Express, McAllen, and Kimberly Morales, both board members, began to understand exactly was the Ronald McDonald House Charities was truly about, they wanted to become involved.
“When I found out about the family rooms in the Edinburg hospital, I felt very passionate about it. I have three children and it could easily be me in the hospital needing those services,” said Jessica.
“We’re an active board where everybody has different roles so Jessica and I volunteered to co-chair the golf tournament,” said Kimberly.
“The nice part about this tournament is the money all stays here locally — with our houses and our family rooms,” Jessica said.
This year they have added a Pre-golf banquet on September 10, at the McAllen Country Club. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst will be here to speak about health care. Tables are still available.
With over $5,000 in prize money being handed out for the tournament, breakfast and lunch being provided, it is proving to be a fun event.
“Golfers in the community!” Kimberly calls invitingly. “You’re already going to spend Saturday, the 11th golfing. Why not get three other buddies together and come to Palm View Golf Club. Have a great time golfing and support a great cause while you’re doing it!”
For more information or to sign up for both events, call the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the RGV, 956-412-7200.