The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa provides a home-away-from-home for families traveling to Des Moines to seek medical care for their child.

We have two House locations, an 18-bedroom House near Blank Children’s Hospital and a 17-bedroom House at MercyOne Children’s Hospital. These Houses are more than just a place to stay. We offer a comprehensive meal program, comfortable community spaces, laundry facilities, playrooms and more. A team of over 70 volunteers and a small dedicated team of staff are always ready to do whatever it takes to make a family’s stay a little easier.

Since we opened our doors in 1981, RMHC Central Iowa has been keeping families closer by providing more than 8,000 overnight stays a year. These families have come from 96 Iowa counties, 15 states and 6 countries around the world whose children are receiving medical care at Blank Children’s Hospital, MercyOne Children’s Hospital, Child Serve, Orchard Place, Iowa ENT, or other area medical facilities.

We offer a place to call home at little to no cost, so that families can stay together. Many families try to contribute what they can – even if it’s the suggested $10 a night donation. In reality, our cost is just over $100 per night. But no family is turned away for their inability to pay.  



Our History

When Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s 3-year-old daughter, Kim, was being treated for leukemia in 1974, his life changed. He and his wife, Fran, camped out on hospital benches and sat in cramped waiting rooms during Kim’s three years of treatment. The Hills watched other parents and families of seriously ill children do the same thing. Many of the families had to travel long distances for their children to receive medical treatment and couldn’t afford hotel rooms.

The Hills knew there had to be a solution. Fred rallied the support of his teammates to raise funds. Through Jim Murray, the Eagles’ general manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Evans dreamed of a comfortable temporary residence for families of children being treated at her hospital.

Jim enlisted Don Tuckerman from the local McDonald’s advertising agency, who with the support of McDonald’s Regional Manager Ed Rensi, launched the St. Patrick’s Day Green Milkshake (dubbed the Shamrock Shake) promotion. Funds raised helped buy an old house located near the hospital, which was opened in 1974 as the first Ronald McDonald House©. Fast forward 50 years and we now have 387 Ronald McDonald Houses© that serve families in 49 countries and regions around the world. We operate 270 Family Room programs in 28 countries and regions. There are 40 Care Mobile programs providing pediatric and dental services in 10 countries and regions.