Stanford's Ronald McDonald House to double in size

Facility for families at Packard Hospital to be the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world

A planned expansion for the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford officially broke ground Monday morning, putting the facility on its way to becoming the largest of the 337 Ronald McDonald Houses across the world.

When completed, the new, 562,000-square-foot facility will add 67 new private rooms to make for a total of 123 rooms to accommodate a greater number of families of critically ill children being treated at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

The new building will be adjacent to the existing facility at 520 Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto. The project will include repurposing and remodeling work to add nine guest rooms to the existing 47-room building, which opened in 1979.

Once complete, the two buildings will operate as one campus, officials said. The expanded campus will include new home-like kitchen and dining areas, a kitchen preparation space for volunteer meal preparation, age-specific activity rooms, a classroom, multipurpose rooms, a library and resource center, a fitness and rehabilitation room, a spa facility, a day-pass room for all families at Packard Hospital and underground parking.

Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months and will be completed in late 2015, officials said.

"We take wonderful care of the families who stay at the House every night. However, there are currently between 40 to 50 families on our daily waiting list, and this demand will only increase in the coming years as Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford continues to expand," Annette Eros, Ronald McDonald House chief executive officer, stated in a press release.

Families with a child who is receiving treatment at a local hospital and who live outside a 50-mile radius of the facility can stay at Ronald McDonald House, regardless of their ability to pay a standard $10 nightly fee per family.

"When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, the entire family's life is immediately turned upside down," Eros said. "Having access to advanced medical care becomes critical, but often medical facilities are extremely far away from their homes. It is important to ensure that more families in need will have a place near the hospital be together to rest, recuperate, and heal."

Monday's ceremony featured children from Ronald McDonald House, donning mini hard hats and shovels to break ground for the new building. Children from the Ronald McDonald House summer camp, including patients and their siblings, performed a dance to the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. Minna Rogers, a jazz and tap teacher at the American Academy of Ballet in Redwood City, choreographed the children's dance.

Brian Murphy of KNBR Radio emcee'd the ground-breaking ceremony. Other special guests included Anne McCune, chief operating officer at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford; Steven Ramirez, incoming chairman of the board of trustees for the global chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities; Steve Peat, president of McDonald's Restaurant Owners of the Bay Area; and Ronald McDonald.

Stanford has hired Vance Brown, Inc. as the general contractor and Kenneth Rodrigues & Partners, Inc., as the architecture firm. Nova Partners is providing pro bono project management services.

Monday's ground-breaking ceremony also marked the beginning of the public-donation phase of a fundraising campaign to pay for the project. Ronald McDonald House has raised a significant portion of private funding for the expansion, officials said, but a $40.5 million goal has been set to fully fund the project.

The expansion project website is at


Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2014 at 10:38 pm

This is extraordinary support for children going through severe illnesses. Very impressive that it will be the largest Ronald Mc Donald house in the world.

I hope to see news on the progress, and look forward to making a donation to the expansion.

Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm

This is a great thing. It's almost impossible for families to afford hotel rates in the area. Thank you Ronald MacDonald House Charities!

Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

I have a friend who survived lymphoma in the Cambridge area, and she said they participated in a program that hosted families from out of town who needed medical care at Boston Children's Hospital. Do we have anything similar here?

Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2014 at 4:06 pm


I volunteered at the house years ago and I recall hearing that there may be a Palo Alto family or two who open up a cottage for patients from the hospital, but I doubt that is a large program due to the high rents in the area and turnover in the last 10 years.

Supporting the expansion of Ronald Mc Donald house is a great way for locals to support families who need specialized care at Stanford. Usually rare cases which can't be treated in their area. The article describes the way the house is thoughtful about all the challenges these families have. It's a unique place. When I volunteered, the other volunteers came from as far as Saratoga.

It might be nice for Palo Alto residents to have a special event to support the house.

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