World Children's Day at McDonald's Raises Millions to Help Children in Need

    Funds Raised Support Ronald McDonald House Charities Expansion Plans;
    Entertainers Help Honor Ronald McDonald House Charities Heroes from Around
    the World

    NEW YORK, Nov. 20 /CNW/ -- Five everyday heroes from around the world
were honored today for their inspiring work on behalf of children in need as
part of World Children's Day at McDonald's. The celebration took place today
at the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, where McDonald's USA President
Don Thompson was joined by entertainment stars Hayden Panettiere from NBC-TV's
"Heroes;" multi-platinum artist and songwriter, Ne-Yo; actress, singer and
comedienne Angelica Vale; and celebrity chef Ron Bilaro.
    "As we host World Children's Day across the globe, we think of the
children and families who have been helped in times of real need," said Don
Thompson, president, McDonald's USA. "We are grateful to everyone who makes it
possible to help children through Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and
other worthy children's causes, and we hope many more will be inspired to
offer support. That is what World Children's Day is all about."
    The entertainment stars joined the "Friends of RMHC" network of more than
30,000 volunteers who support the Charities' programs in countries across the
globe. "It is very fulfilling to assist children in need as well as their
families," said Panettiere. "I am honored to support World Children's Day and
Ronald McDonald House Charities to help bring attention to this very special
    World Children's Day at McDonald's is a worldwide annual fundraising
effort that comes to life at McDonald's restaurants in more than 100 countries
thanks to McDonald's customers, owners/operators, employees and suppliers.
Since its inception in 2002, World Children's Day at McDonald's has raised
$100 million to help children and families through RMHC programs, including
Ronald McDonald Houses, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, Ronald McDonald Care
Mobiles, grants and scholarships, plus other children's charities.
    At today's event, RMHC also announced a goal to raise $600 million over
the next four years to:

    -- Build 68 new Ronald McDonald Houses, for a total of 339, and expand 30
       existing Houses, so that each night 8,000 families will be able to call
       a Ronald McDonald House home;
    -- Open 56 more Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, raising the number to 171,
       so RMHC can serve a total of a million and a half families per year,
    -- Roll out 23 new Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, bringing the fleet to 54,
       enabling RMHC to serve more than 420,000 children each year with dental
       and medical care in their neighborhoods, where they need it.
    McDonald's Give A Hand Award:
    The first-ever McDonald's Give A Hand Awards were presented today to five
everyday heroes who have overcome hardships with the help of RMHC, or who do
inspiring work as volunteers for the Charity. Panettiere, Ne-Yo, Vale, and
Bilaro joined McDonald's and RMHC executives to present the Give A Hand
Awards. The awardees are:

    -- Gabriela Lebenas from Buenos Aires, Argentina - the first Argentine
       RMHC volunteer who helped establish three Ronald McDonald Houses and
       the first Care Mobile outside the U.S. in her country.
    -- Dr. Elvira Directo from Manila, Philippines - an educator for the
       Department of Education who has volunteered her time and educational
       skills to extend the Philippines RMHC "Bright Minds Read" program to 20
       additional cities reaching more than 900 elementary schools.
    -- Robert Korzeniowski from Warsaw, Poland - a renowned athlete who, after
       overcoming a serious rheumatic illness when he was a teenager, went on
       to win four Olympic gold medals in race walking. Robert now serves as a
       member of the Board of RMHC Poland and is an active supporter of World
       Children's Day.
    -- Barbara Nelms from Pensacola, Florida - a long-time volunteer and
       supporter of RMHC who has logged over 700 volunteer hours at her local
       Ronald McDonald House. It is the support of volunteers like Barbara
       that makes Ronald McDonald Houses a true 'home away from home.'
    -- Jessie Rodriguez from Hazelton, Pennsylvania - a 16-year-old liver
       transplant survivor who benefited from RMHC services during her
       diagnosis and recovery, living for periods of time at the Delaware
       Ronald McDonald House since she was ten years old. She is now sharing
       her story of hope to help others.
    Friends of RMHC:
    As part of the day's activities, RMHC President and CEO Marty Coyne
introduced a new dimension to the Friends of RMHC program, with high-profile
entertainers and sports figures joining the ranks as volunteers.
    Two of the Friends, Panettiere and Ne-Yo, are conducting a multi-city
tour to visit children and families at a Ronald McDonald House, a Ronald
McDonald Care Mobile and a children's hospital. The tour began Monday in
Dallas, continued to Detroit, and culminates after the New York global
celebration with a stop in Philadelphia, where the first Ronald McDonald House
opened in 1974.
    "We are extremely grateful to our new Friends for using their visibility
to raise awareness of RMHC and improve children's lives around the world,"
said Coyne.
    Others joining the Friends of RMHC include: "Access Hollywood's" Billy
Bush; "ESPN's" Trey Wingo; "Today Show's" Al Roker; Supermodel Cindy Crawford;
Celebrity stylist June Ambrose; Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis; Actor and TV
host Mario Lopez; and Actress Dayanara Torres.
    About Ronald McDonald House Charities
    Ronald McDonald House Charities, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation,
creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well
being of children.  Its programs are grassroots-driven to enable the Charity
to offer help where children need it most: right in their own communities.
RMHC makes an immediate, positive impact on children's lives through its
global network of local Chapters in nearly 50 countries and its three core
programs: the Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room and Ronald
McDonald Care Mobile. RMHC and its global network of local Chapters have
awarded more than $440 million in grants and program services to children's
programs around the world. Since the Charity's inception in 1974, McDonald's
has supported RMHC and its mission to improve the health and well being of
children. For more information about RMHC visit
    About McDonald's
    McDonald's is the leading foodservice retailer with more than 30,000
local restaurants serving quality food to more than 52 million customers in
more than 100 countries each day.  Approximately 70 percent of McDonald's
restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent, local men and
women. For more information about World Children's Day at McDonald's visit
    McDonald's, World Children's Day, the World Children's Day logo, Ronald
McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room,
RMHC, Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, and Give A Hand are trademarks of
McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates.

    Media Contacts:
    Tonya Jones, GolinHarris, (312) 729-4460
    Lisa McComb, McDonald's, (630) 623-3707
    Soraya Garcia, McDonald's, (630) 623-2163
    McDonald's Electronic Press Kit:

For further information:

For further information: Tonya Jones of GolinHarris, +1-312-729-4460,
for  McDonald's; or Lisa McComb, +1-630-623-3707, or Soraya Garcia,
+1-630-623-2163,  both of McDonald's Web Site:      

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