MCHAPPY DAY - Mike, Luke, Ben and Nicky Martel used the Ronald McDonald House after Ben’s birth last year. McDonald’s customers were able to support the House by purchasing either a McCafe beverage, a Big Mac or a Happy meal on McHappy day. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

McHappy Day supports Central Alberta families at Ronald McDonald House

25 per cent of Ronald McDonald House’s operating budget comes from McDonald’s support

May 2nd is McHappy Day across Canada and Central Albertans were purchasing McCafe beverages, Big Macs and Happy Meals at McDonald’s restaurants to support the Ronald McDonald House.

The Martel family — who used the Ronald McDonald House following the birth of their son Ben — went to each Red Deer McDonald’s location to thank customers, staff and managers for their support.

“It all started with our baby boy Ben being born,” Mike Martel said. “He was born with Down Syndrome and was immediately put into the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) because of breathing complications. He spent a month and a bit in there and there was a lot going on at that time.”

Mike and his wife Nicky ended up having to balance being at the hospital several times throughout the day along with raising their three other sons, two of which are teenagers heavily involved in lacrosse and their son Luke — who was only two years old at the time.

“Instead of being a five-minute trip to the hospital, it was taking up to an hour every single time we had to go,” Mike said. “With Ben needing to be fed every couple hours, it was non-stop back and forth.

“The Ronald McDonald House gave us that safe haven to not have to go so far. It was right beside the hospital, it was easy and quick and it was a nice place for our family to relax and enjoy being a family still.”

Nicky said the staff at the Central Alberta Ronald McDonald House went above and beyond and that house became a, “Home away from home”.

“You don’t really understand what the house is until you are in it, meet the people and see what they actually do as an organization,” she said. “We have four boys and my teenagers got to have supper everyday without me having to worry about cooking and cleaning. The Ronald McDonald House kept our house normal during a very stressful time.”

The Martels were able to take advantage of the day-use facilities at the House, which allowed them to rest, shower, eat and their son Luke was able to play in the play area.

“They treated Luke so good. He was two at the time and we always refer to it as Disneyland for him. He knew the drill — you sanitize your hands, take your shoes off and run to the playroom,” Nicky said.

Their time at the house also happened to be during Easter, which was accommodated by the staff and volunteers at the House.

“They graciously opened their doors to my whole family. There was 14 of us who had Easter dinner there. It was very, very nice,” Nicky said.

The Martels are now all home, healthy and are grateful for what the Ronald McDonald House did for their family during a stressful time.

Mike said it is important for them now to support the House in any way they can.

“After going there and realizing what it really was, it is really important to us now,” he said. “We still get invited back because they want to see Ben and see how our family is growing. It is not just an organization that helps you, they become literally a part of your family by the end of it.”

Red Deer McDonald’s locations Owner/Operator Bob Carpenter said McHappy Day is a great way for his businesses to support families like the Martels.

“It is one of those things that has some momentum and the community has really rallied behind it. Our staff do such a great job suggesting different ways for customers to give back to the Ronald McDonald House. We also have a lot of fun. Our crew has fun; our VIPs have a great time and it is everyone coming together for a great cause,” he said.

Carpenter said hearing stories like the Martels puts a face on all the good work the Ronald McDonald house does.

“It is a really humbling experience and we are privileged to be here today trying to find ways to give back,” he said.

Rhanda Bonet-Graham, Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta fund development manager, said the House is grateful for the support McDonald’s has given them.

“Our partnership with McDonald’s constitutes 25 per cent of our operating budget every year. They are our biggest donor and our best supporter,” she said. “We are so excited to celebrate with them on McHappy Day and thank their crew, their managers and the customers.”

She added that last year, the Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta saw 916 day use passes used by local families like the Martels and that she is grateful for the support from the community.

“Thanks to everyone who came out,” she said.

One dollar from each of the items purchased goes directly to the Ronald McDonald House.

Just Posted

Get your healthy on

Healthy Living Expo promotes sustainable, innovative and healthy lifestyles

WATCH: Team Alberta visits Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

École Secondaire Notre Dame High School students hold ‘Food Truck Friday’

Food studies students learn what it takes to run a food truck business while giving to a good cause

Action Group Society seeking support for transit program

Donate A Ride needs a boost in funds to serve the community

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

May plans next move in Brexit fight as chances rise of delay

Some say a lack of action could trigger a ‘public tsunami’

Group challenges ruling for doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

A group of five Canadian doctors and three professional organizations is appealing

Major winter storm wreaks havoc on U.S. travel

Nearly 5,000 flights were cancelled Sunday around the country

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Ponoka cowboy Vernon (Bud) Butterfield passes away

The Ponoka Stampede Association announced his passing Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Most Read