Ronald McDonald House Charities, Greater Western Sydney was the beneficiary of FDC’s annual Melbourne Cup Luncheon last year, a valuable opportunity to support a meaningful cause that positively impacts people in our community.
When Board Member of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Greater Western Sydney (RMHC, GWS), Ray Finn OAM, watched FDC build the Westmead house from the ground up, he knew it was going to be a beautiful friendship.
“If a crane was coming, one of the foremen would say, ‘You might want to bring the kids out,’ so the kids could enjoy the spectacle. These are very sick children and seeing FDC’s people get so much from bringing them joy was wonderful. On Fridays the tradies and labourers would come over and cook for the kids and their families,” he recalls. “We got so much more than a business partnership.”
In November 2022, RMHC, GWS was the beneficiary of FDC’s Melbourne Cup lunch. A chance to connect face to face. And fundraising efforts which resulted in a staggering $433,629 for the charity.
FDC is a family company and for us, supporting the lives of struggling families is an incredibly meaningful pursuit. The gratitude we feel towards our clients, sub-contractors staff and partners who helped us reach this goal, runs deep.
The sum represents 2,718 nights of accommodation for critically ill or injured kids and their families at ‘the house that love built’ in Westmead—the 60-room house FDC delivered in 2017.
Ronald McDonald House’s vision is to achieve the best outcome for families by reducing the impact of their child’s serious illness. For the more-than 1400 families who stay at the Greater Western Sydney Chapter annually, it’s a vision that provides tangible support; a place to call home and to connect with others also enduring the unimaginable.
More than just a home-away-from-home, the impact Ronald McDonald House makes in the lives of families with sick and injured children is profound. Families receive holistic care in the form of weekly meals, in-House programs and a network of support.
The House helps to alleviate financial and emotional stress, strengthening their ability to cope. Children and parents who stay at RMHC, GWS are thought to have a better quality of life than expected for children with serious illnesses, and that’s just the beginning.
Families are able to stay next door to their child’s medical treatment (at Westmead Children’s Hospital), for as long as needed, at no expense to the family. A purpose-built learning centre provides daily programs and school holiday activities for patients and siblings all year round. Meals are served three times a week through the charity’s Meals from the Heart program where groups of volunteers visit to cook for families, providing precious time to connect over a warm meal. FDC’s construction team regularly show up at the RMHC, GWS kitchen, armed with their aprons and best culinary skills.
The power of support
The majority of families who stay at Ronald McDonald House have travelled more than 100km from their home and local support network, for an unknown length of time. Around 55% of families stay long-term, for around six months. Some of them travel from rural New South Wales or even from as far as interstate.
One of those children was aspiring cross country runner, Elijah Arranz, who at 14 years old, was involved in a horrific tandem skydiving accident in 2015.
Elijah suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, jaw and face, several breaks to his pelvis and ribs, a lacerated kidney and liver, torn ligaments to the back of his neck and a severe traumatic brain injury. Elijah and his family lived at Ronald McDonald House for 352 days.
Now 21, Elijah has transformed. The inspirational speaker took to the podium at the Melbourne Cup fundraiser, to share his story, express his gratitude for Ronald McDonald House and talk about the power of transformation.
“When I was 10, I discovered cross country running. I loved it. I wasn’t the best runner but my desire to win was unmatched. Over the years I transformed myself from being a little kid who loved to run, into an elite runner, looking forward to many more kilometres. But two months after my most triumphant run. I was to undergo another transformation. This time, a transformation not by choice, but thrust upon me by bad luck. A transformation that would take a grown man’s life. A transformation that would leave me in a coma hanging on to life. I was unable to speak, to move and to breathe unassisted, suffering a severe traumatic brain injury,” he said.
“I spent almost seven weeks in intensive care. When I regained some form of consciousness, I knew it was time for another transformation. It was time to rebuild. After several months I started to talk again and to eat again. I started to move again. The building of RMHC, GWS, thanks to FDC, helps so many families. Ronald McDonald House helped my family when we were at our most broken. Me, physically, and my mum, my dad and my sister emotionally.
“Rebuilding [my life] isn’t something I do in isolation. Transforming from a kid in a coma into a young man; independent; optimistic; full of life and full of hope, I had a whole team of people helping me on my journey of transformation. And I believe that for any great transformation, you need a team. At the [Melbourne Cup] lunch today, I met builders, electricians, plasterers, plumbers, all sorts of tradies, office and support staff, friends and families. I look at FDC and see a massive team, not too dissimilar to the team that I have, who are intent on transforming things for the better. It’s not just about transforming buildings, but about transforming lives.”
To be able to remain as a family unit so close to the hospital while your child is undergoing serious treatments is incredibly valuable.
To have a sense of community, and support through it all, is priceless.
“Everything Ronald McDonald House does is to support its families, and those values are at the core of FDC. We’re incredibly grateful for the kindness and generosity of our subcontractors, clients and team who attended our Melbourne Cup lunch, and took the time and money to support this life-changing charity. For us, it’s personal.” Ben Cottle, Managing Director FDC
Photography: Amelia Grose