Each year, FOX 7 helps sponsor Lights of Love, an event which raises money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas.
Ronald McDonald House helps support families that have a sick child being treated at the hospital.
“As a parent, if you have a kiddo in the hospital that's all you want to focus on. So at Ronald McDonald House charities of Central Texas we step in to take care of the family by providing lodging, food and support so that families can stay close together while their kiddo is hospitalized,” said CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas Carolyn Schwarz.
Each year the Lights of Love event helps raise money to help Ronald McDonald House support more families in Central Texas.
“The funds raised here tonight are going to enable our families to have all the comforts of home to reduce their stress, to have peace of mind while their child's in the hospital healing,” Schwarz said.
One of the programs run by the Ronald McDonald House Charities is the Healing Hearts program.
“It's a program that's designed to help families who have lost a child. They provide burial assistance and bereavement counseling,” said Ben Blackburn who was served by the program when he lost his daughter Tatum.
“The opportunity to get support at a time where you're not thinking about those things, it's hard to focus on what you're going to do the next minute, nevertheless trying to prepare for a funeral or things like that,” Ben said.
“We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for the Healing Hearts program and the Hope Group at the Ronald McDonald house,” Ben’s Wife Emilee added.
Now the Blackburn’s are one of many organizations at Lights of Love that help raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
“Lights of Love is a special way for families here in Central Texas to come out to support those who need our services,” said Schwarz.
This year Lights of Love was held under the Browning hangar at Mueller Lake Park.
“We have a snow slide, we have Santa sumo wrestling, craft activities, face painting, hot chocolate making, it's just a winter wonderland,” said Schwarz.
The staff at Ronald McDonald House Charities said Lights of Love raises more than $100,000 each year. That money helps keep the organization running year round, so that the families they serve can focus on what matters most, each other.
“When people have suffered a pediatric medical crisis it's like the rug has been pulled out from under you and this is a small way where we get to have fun and have a party and have it be for a purpose,” Schwarz said.
Ronald McDonald House Charities helps families with children up to 21 years old. They have a house next to Dell Children's Medical Center and five family rooms at other nearby hospitals.