Home News Local News 35 years of Ronald McDonald House; Families assisted by charity join together

35 years of Ronald McDonald House; Families assisted by charity join together

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Sienna Hernandez laughs as her nephew Emery Rodriguez continues to sip down a soda while being held by his mother, Katianna Hernandez Tuesday afternoon at the UFO McDonald’s. According to his family, Emery was born premature, weighing only 3 pounds. During that time, Emery’s family said the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico had provided assistance for Emery and his family. The charity, celebrating its 35th anniversary, hosted a family reunion, allowing those who have stayed in the Ronald McDonald House to share their stories. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

A McDonald’s restaurant served a little more than a Happy Meal Tuesday.

The UFO McDonald’s, located at 720 N. Main St., gave the Roswell family members who have stayed within the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico a chance to say “thank you” to staff and share their story.

The charity based out of Albuquerque hosted the event at the McDonald’s PlayPlace Tuesday afternoon as part of its family reunion while also celebrating its 35th anniversary.

Kristin Rortvedt, executive director for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico, described the experience of being able to see these now healthy families as “amazing.”

“This is such a special opportunity for us to reconnect with families who have stayed with us over 35 years straight,” Rortvedt said. “Whether they stayed with us two months ago, or 25 years ago — it’s a chance for us to reconnect with families who needed us in their moment of need, and for us to be able to come back and celebrate with them.”

According to a news release from Fitzgerald Petersen Communications, families from Chaves County spent 904 nights at the Ronald McDonald House while their children were receiving medical treatment in Albuquerque back in 2016.

Roswell McDonald’s owner and operator Nic Snowberger said he enjoyed seeing the people the organization is able to help.

“It’s easy to give money every year without really ‘seeing’ the House,” Snowberger said. “Too often, they’re not aware of where it goes, but having this event and seeing the families that it’s touched and all the special ways it’s affected these people’s lives.

“Really, in me, it really ignites that philanthropic spirit, and why we do what we do, and why we have the partnership that we do with the Ronald House. It’s so important to our brand — I love it.”

Rortvedt, from the charity in Albuquerque, said she wanted the celebration to take place at a familiar area.

“To come to their neighborhood, so that we’re coming to them and sitting in their community and connected with them in their hometown — it means the world to these families,” Rortvedt said. “Just like our Ronald McDonald House is a safe, comfortable place, McDonald’s is that home away from home for families in their own neighborhood.”

Before families got the chance to speak with others and tell of their experiences at the Ronald McDonald House, they all shared a meal, watching children play.

“That’s the most important part of this whole family reunion,” Rortvedt said. “The families can just sit back and relax.

“For us to be able to have this here makes it so much happier and easier for families to share another special moment.”