Ronald McDonald House Celebrates 30th Birthday at Site of New House

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COLUMBIA - The Ronald McDonald House celebrated its 30th anniversary Tuesday at its new construction site. 

The Ronald McDonald House Charities began when parents of a child with leukemia prompted the efforts of an NFL team, a children's hospital, McDonald's restaurants and the citizens of Philadelphia to build the first Ronald McDonald House in 1974. Since the first house opened, more than 300 houses have opened in more than 30 countries. 

Executive Director Terri Gray said the celebration is about more than just the anniversary. 

"I think what's been really exciting about today, in addition to us celebrating 30 years of service, is seeing the tremendous community outreach and all of the people who've come to our celebration,"  Gray said.

She said the new house is an upgrade and will serve more families in need.

"We have 18 bedrooms in the new house compared to eight in the existing house," Gray said. "So we certainly will be able to expand the number of families that we serve and hopefully offer additional services to the families." 

Gray said the future is the most difficult part of her job. 

"The hardest part about my job currently is making sure that we are serving families that we need to serve," Gray said, "but also planning for the future and making sure that we're around and available to help other families that may need help from us in the future." 

Gray said the house should be completed by Christmas. 

For more information about the Ronald McDonald House, visit RMHCMIDMO.ORG.