Our Story

How the Denver Ronald McDonald House got started and evolved.

Philadelphia was the birthplace of the first Ronald McDonald House. Opened in 1974, the House provided a place to stay for families who traveled to Philadelphia for their child’s medical care. The idea originated with co-founder and pediatric oncologist, Dr. Audrey Evans, who realized the importance of caring for and supporting the entire family when a child was sick.

A short two years later, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado and McDonald’s Owners in Denver and Wyoming came together to replicate the idea in Denver. 

In 1979, they opened the doors to Ronald McDonald House of Denver in an historic mansion just east of downtown Denver. Just the third Ronald McDonald House to open, it was a welcome sanctuary for over 17,000 families for over 20 years. But with just 12 bedrooms, the House was full on many nights and families were often turned away. 

For that reason, in 1999, the Board of Directors decided to build a modern and much larger House beside Children’s Hospital Colorado. The new house more than doubled the occupancy capacity of the old house, housing 31 families each night. 

As the metropolitan area became more prominent in the field of medicine, and Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado Hospital relocated to the new Fitzsimons Medical Campus in Aurora, we again acted decisively to build another, even larger, house to meet future needs. The 45-room Aurora Ronald McDonald House was opened in 2008, at a site near the Fitzsimons campus.    

In 2016, again in response to a growing need, a 44-room expansion to the Denver House was opened. Thanks to a steady pattern of growth, today we can accommodate 118 families each night.   

Our programming, too, has grown. Understanding the importance of a hot meal for our families, we’ve prioritized the growth our volunteer meal program. What began as a volunteer driven schedule of meals is now a commitment to provide families with a hot meal every day. To accomplish that, our team now includes two chefs and two culinary managers to work alongside volunteer meal groups.    

Today, we also operate a Ronald McDonald Family Room within Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. The room is a quiet sanctuary, just steps from the patient’s bedside, that offers snacks, laundry facilities and a place to rest and regroup within the hospital. The Ronald McDonald Family Room is open to all families being treated at the hospital, not just those staying at Ronald McDonald House.

Make a Difference for Families & Children

Parents don’t know when their children will need medical help far from home. But they should know they can always access the care they need. And with your help, we can support them all throughout their journey.