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From a Bed and Breakfast Charity to Leading Champion for Family-Centred Healing

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TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/26/13 -- Editors Note: There are 3 photos and 1 video associated with this press release

With 70 per cent of Canadians living outside of a city with a children's hospital(1), the need for families to travel to receive treatment for their sick child is more prevalent than ever before and the demand for Ronald McDonald Houses (RMH) has never been greater. With the launch of RMHC Canada's new Family Moments campaign, the Charity is hoping to engage Canadians in an important conversation about the critical role family plays in the care and healing of a sick child.

Ronald McDonald Houses provide a home away from home for families whose children are being treated at a nearby hospital and are pioneers in what today is known as family-centred care - the widely recognized, and now validated, family together approach to healing. More than thirty years later, they serve 10,000 families a year across Canada through a network of Houses and in-hospital Ronald McDonald Family Rooms. This number is expected to double by 2014 to 20,000 families, or approximately two-thirds of Canadian families with critically sick or injured children.

"Last year, we conducted research to better understand what was driving the remarkable growth and demand at our Houses. What we learned was both inspiring and daunting," says Cathy Loblaw, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada. "The good news is that thanks to medical advances, healing rates for children have never been higher. However, it is taking more treatments, over longer periods of time - resulting in unprecedented demand for our Houses that continues to grow."

The new Family Moments campaign gives Canadians a window into the world of families staying at Ronald McDonald Houses by depicting real, slice of life moments that happen every day and which bring a world of normal to families in situations that are anything but.

Inspired by real-life family stories, filmed in an actual Ronald McDonald House® (Hamilton) and featuring families that have stayed there, the creation of the campaign was an intensely personal experience for all involved. It was the personal experience of Drew Graham, a father who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Halifax that crystalized the Family Moments creative concept by providing a glimpse into the experience of all RMH families.

Families travelling to care for their sick child face overwhelming and often insurmountable financial challenges to cover accommodation, travel, child care and mounting medical expenses often without the support of work. Ninety-four per cent of mothers and seventy per cent of fathers reported a work loss following their child's cancer diagnosis amounting to a considerable cost for families.(2)

"I thought we were broke," states Graham in his letter. "But every family in the house had it tough. Some had kids who had to stay home, other traveled 8 to 10 hours every day or had jobs that only allowed unpaid leave or forced them to stay at work or quit. I hope you are never faced with the choice of leaving your dying child, or losing the ability to support your family."

Drew's story speaks to the financial and emotional support that he and his family received at a Ronald McDonald House while his youngest son Oliver faced a two-year battle with cancer, which he eventually succumbed to. Drew speaks to how the staff and the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House became his support network and how the House itself was an oasis for Drew and for his oldest son, Jax - sibling to Oliver.

"Ronald McDonald House was a place to play where Jax didn't have to curb his enthusiasm and I was just a regular parent. It allowed both of us to let off steam and make the most of what days we still had as whole family," said Drew Graham. "If not for the Ronald McDonald House, families - my family - would not have been together when they most needed to be."

The national Family Moments campaign, launching at the end of March, is a fully integrated campaign, including three :30 second national TV spots, print ads, out of home executions, as well as digital and public relations extensions.

Those looking for more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada or to make a donation can visit the website at www.rmhc.ca.

About RMHC

In 1982, Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada was founded to be the everlasting organization that would support Ronald McDonald Houses and their programs in Canada. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a home away from home for out of town families with sick children being treated at a nearby hospital. Today, 14 Ronald McDonald Houses serve more than 10,000 families each year. By 2014 that support will grow to serving over 20,000 families in Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada.

Completing our circle of support for Canadian families are eight Ronald McDonald Family Rooms®, which provide an oasis of calm and support right inside the walls of the Hospital, as well as the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® program in Calgary, Alberta. As our largest donor, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada and its franchisees donate 10 cents from every Happy Meal to Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada.

(1) Statistics Canada, 2011 (Calculation using municipalities)

(2) Tsmimicalis A. Costs Incurred by Families of Children Newly Diagnosed with Cancer in Ontario. Thesis: Doctor of Philosophy Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing University of Toronto 2010.

To view the first photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20130325-RMHCprint-2LRG.jpg.

To view the second photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20130325-RMHCprint-3LRG.jpg.

To view the third photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.marketwire.com/library/20130325-DrewJaxOliverLRG.jpg.

To view the video associated with this press release, please visit the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk1X1AcxFgo



Contacts:
GolinHarris for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Canada
Jackie Elliott
416-642-7899
jelliot@golinharris.com

Jennifer Wasley
416-642-7903
JWasley@GolinHarris.com



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