World's Largest Ronald McDonald House is Open and Filled with Love

It's finally HERE!  After  much planning, hoping, wishing and fundraising, the World Largest Ronald McDonald House is OPEN!  I was honored to be there for this special celebration on a parking garage rooftop which was directly across from the House.   Throughout the impressive program, more than 600 attendees could plainly see the purpose for this party.

Wrapped in a giant bow, the House loomed large at 16 stories and 86 rooms.  Emcee Mark Giangreco opened the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 26th.  There were so many people there and, thank goodness, the real Chicago heat came later in the week!  But on this day, nothing could dampen anyone’s spirits as 13 year old Kate Wild sang the National Anthem (she will also be singing the anthem on opening day in Soldier Field).  Mary Agnes Laguatan (VP of Operations for RMHCCNI) gave a moving invocation and then Governor Quinn spoke (before he had to rush off to meet with the First Lady).  He proclaimed this day “Ronald McDonald House Charities Day” in Chicago.  “Long may it live!,” he said.  Next, Senator John Cullerton presented a proclamation from the Mayor, who ALSO named June 26th as RMHC Day in Chicago.  Giangreco then jokingly introduced  Jim Skinner (McDonald’s CEO) as the “grand imperial quarter pounder with cheese.”  Skinner thanked the crowd on behalf of the “1.7 million people in the McDonald’s family.”  The Soul Children of Chicago, directed by Walt Whitman, gave a moving performance of “The Future’s Up to Me and You” (written by Nancy Slattery and Ira Antelis) that brought the crowd to tears.   MaryAnne Smith (president of the Auxiliary Board for the House) spoke next, along with her adoring husband, Coach Lovie Smith.  “As we drove down Grand, I could see the House.  I said to Lovie, it’s a palace, it’s a home, it feels like a home and now it’s working like a home.  It’s what we tried to build.”  Doug Porter (CEO of RMHCCNI) said, “Today’s ceremony is for you to recommit.”  He called out people who were instrumental in the House’s success including Jim Murray (Founder of Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia & Former Eagles' General Manager) and Joe Antunovich (House architect) among many others.

Macy’s has been a GIANT supporter of the new House and has dedicated their Glamorama funds, raising more than $645K not including this year’s event, from the last three years to its building! (Speaking of Glamorama, I hope you can put Chicago’s biggest and best fashion show on your calendars!  Friday, August 10th at the Harris Theater!)    A huge shout out and thank you to Macy’s!!!  Where would we be without YOU OR Fundraising Co-Chairs Ken Norgan and Marsha Serlin, who have worked tirelessly connecting and identifying people and companies who could make this dream come true.  A special shoutout also goes out to GETTYS, a global hospitality design firm who partnered with Ronald McDonald House providing interior design and procurement services for all public areas within the 100,000-square-foot House.

Following the rooftop ceremony, guests were whisked via trolley to the River East Art Center for a delicious reception!   Don’t forget your tickets for Glamorama coming to the Harris Theater on August 10th featuring Robin Thicke, Jr. and Karmin!  (For Glam tickets, please click here!)

Stay tuned for video coverage on my show, Candid Candace Chicago, coming soon on Watch312.com!

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