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Annual Ronald McDonald Ride Cruises through Southeast Minnesota

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Aug 2nd, 2013
Posted in All Features

By Mitchell Walbridge

Rolling in one-by-one, then by tens, and not long after by the hundreds, motorcyclists were part of the 13th annual Ronald McDonald “Cruise” on Sunday, July 28. Beginning at Rochester Community and Technical College’s Sports Center, Cruise riders spent the afternoon riding along a parade route through the scenic twists and turns of bluff country.

The route included stops in four locations along the way, including St. Charles, Minn., Winona, Minn., Rushford, Minn., and finally the small town of Preston, Minn. where riders were welcomed in the courthouse square with an abundance of food venders and live musical entertainment.

Event coordinators estimate that this year’s turnout was as populous as ever, as nearly 1,200 bikers participated in the Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser. Now in its 13th year, this event is eagerly anticipated annually. Jim and Karen Buchanan of Rochester, Minn. have been in the Cruise every year since it began with the exception of one year. “It’s really fun, and we enjoy it so much,” commented Karen Buchanan on the event.

Another couple, Bob and Linda Johnson also of Rochester, stated that they have also only missed a couple of years. “The people who participate are great and supporting the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester is such a good cause,” said Linda Johnson.

In addition to the ride portion of the Cruise event, there was also a silent and live auction featuring many elaborate items including a detailed wood carved replica of a bike, Harley-Davidson apparel, and much more. Also, anyone could pledge a donation to the event.

The Rochester Ronald McDonald House has a very specific mission that so many appreciate: “provid[ing] a ‘home away from home’ and offer[ing] support to families seeking medical care for their children. Rochester’s Ronald McDonald House has been true to this mission since 1980, and has some intriguing history.

Originating from the efforts of four local families, the Rochester’s Ronald McDonald House began, in fact, as part of a non-profit organization titled Northland’s Children Services. During the 1980s the organization’s 12-bedroom home located on Second Street SW in Rochester served well for 10 years before enough aid from volunteers and support from Ronald McDonald owner/operator Phil Henoch allowed the Northland House to become a licensed Ronald McDonald House in 1990.

Five years later the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester moved to a new location while more than doubling in size. Then having 24 guestrooms, each living quarters had living areas, a kitchen and laundry amenities. Playrooms and game rooms were added for the children. And, one of the biggest improvements overall was to add a private bathroom to each of the guest areas.

Less than decade later in 2004, 18 more rooms were added, making a total of 42 rooms for the House. Six of them are for families who will be staying in the area for long-term medical treatment, often staying months at a time.

As of 2011 the Rochester, Minn. Ronald McDonald House website reports that 990 families from 40 states and 22 countries have utilized the Rochester House. As the House depends on volunteers and donations, events like the Ronald McDonald Cruise allow day-to-day operations to continue to help families facing some very tough challenges, many of which are most likely the toughest they’ll face in their lives. Places like the Ronald McDonald House provide comfort to these families to call their home during difficult times.

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