Living the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Vulnerability. Risk. Bravery. Those are the first three words that come to mind as I reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the observance of his legacy of civil rights activism.

This past year, we have collectively been tested, challenged, and endured COVID-19, racial division, and a shaken democracy. As CEO for Ronald McDonald House Charites of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana, as stated by Dr. Audrey Evans (founder of the first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1974), we believe that when a child is sick, a family is sick. Therefore, we exist so families can get better together. That has never – and will never – change.

We persevered to keep families close to their critically ill child through our Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Room programs, and by deploying healthcare services through our Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program in partnership with Advocate Children’s Hospital. I am grateful for a team who “put up their shields” to protect and support all families not only during these times, but since our inception in 1977. That work – and our commitment to it – endures.

At the same time, we continue to look inward as an organization, challenging ourselves as a staff and Board of Directors to be part of the solution towards understanding and activating a stronger culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our team, our volunteers, and the families we serve.

On this day when we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work, we look to him as an example of accepting our vulnerabilities, taking risks, and being brave for others, and we remain committed to putting his legacy into action.

– Holly Buckendahl, Chief Executive Officer