RANCHO SANTA FE — Chuck Day’s office is in the Ronald McDonald House across from Rady Children’s Hospital, so he is not removed from the highs and lows of treating ill children. He is thrilled when kids get to go home and devastated when a little one loses the battle.
But his job as president and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego is to make sure the house, a home-away-from-home, and its services are available to families whose child is being treated at the hospital. It is the goal to keep families together and strong for each other.
A hospital stay for a child drains a family’s energy, finances and time, he said.
Day said he watches families begin to understand what is in front of them and then learn to handle the uncertainty and the stress they must handle as a family.
“I watch the incredible courage they demonstrate almost daily,” he said.
If not for the Ronald McDonald House, parents would be sleeping in hospital waiting rooms or even their cars to be close to their child.
But it all costs money. Local McDonalds give about 8 percent of the budget so more than 90 percent of the budget is left up to community donations.
One of the ways to raise money is a raffle where chances are sold to win a gorgeous home at $150 a ticket.
“The Dream House Raffle is our largest fundraiser and absolutely vital to our day-to-day operations,” Day said.
In its ninth year, the raffle is for a beautiful $3.2 million house in the Rancho Santa Fe area. The entries cost $150 each. The winner, to be chosen on May 18, will have the choice of the house or $1.6 million in cash.
Buying a ticket also gives a person the chance at three early bird drawings, the first on Feb. 20 will give away a 2013 Prius or $25,000 cash; a Sea-Do Speedster or $10,000 cash; or a Vespa Motor Scooter or $5,000 cash.
The next two early bird drawings in March and April will net the winner cash, cash, cash.
“All the winning tickets will be re-entered into subsequent early bird drawings as well as the grand prize drawing,” Day said. “Only 51,000 tickets will be sold, so the odds are good.”
Day said organizers hope to raise $2 million from this year’s raffle.
And it’s all for such a good cause.
There are 47 rooms at the San Diego Ronald McDonald House which are almost always full.
“We have 46 families with us right now,” he said.
He said one room is occupied by a trauma anesthesiologist who is on call and available to the hospital at any hour.
He said the average stay for the resident guests is about 10 days. Not only do they get a room, they can eat meals, do laundry and keep in touch with families and work at the on- site computer room.
Also on site for the siblings of a young patient, is a school serving kindergartners through 12th grade.
“The idea is to keep a family together, “ he said.
“Another unique thing is the fact that we are so close to Rady and Sharp Mary Birch, we have an open house family care center where the family can take a break and have a meal,” he said.
They don’t have to be residents of the Ronald McDonald House.
“About 96,000 meals have been served and about 18,000 annually,” Day said. “Our Ronald McDonald House is 33 years old.”
The original one was founded in 1973 in Philadelphia. There are now 323 worldwide.
Each house is independent and is a 501 (c) (3) charity.
Tony Gwynn will again be the face and ambassador of the Dream House Raffle.
This is a state of California registered raffle so when a person buys a ticket, it is not considered a gift, so it is not tax deductable, but most people who buy a ticket consider it a gift anyway, Day said.
More information is available by calling (888) 824-9939 or by visiting sdraffle.com.