Future BRT “A Godsend” to Ronald McDonald House

Statue of Ronald McDonald seated on bench next to Mike Kovack, Executive Director of Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House.

Mike Kovack is back as the executive director of the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House, this time overseeing the expansion of an east and west wing.

The 17-year-old facility is experiencing much-needed growth, to accommodate the ever-increasing demand of families in need of a place to stay while their children receive critical care at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Children’s Hospital and other surrounding hospitals in the Seventh-Day Adventist community.

“That’s why sbX is such a godsend,” Kovack said. “At any time there are as many as 21 families here. Many come here with one or no vehicle for a period of weeks, even months, and there is a great need for public transit when they have to be in different places at the same time.”

Omnitrans already has been a tremendous help in that regard, he said, offering day passes to the Ronald McDonald House to distribute to those temporary residents in need of public transportation. The future service, scheduled to begin early next year, will offer faster, more frequent service from its stations a block away, at the corner of Anderson and Prospect streets.

Artist’s renderings of expansion for the west and east wings of existing building.

Undergoing a 34-room expansion, Loma Linda is one of more than 300 Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the country. They were built through private donations as part of Ronald McDonald’s Charities, which also awards scholarships to deserving high school seniors.

The program was established in 1974 by former Philadelphia Eagles’ football player Fred Hill, who was able to afford temporary housing near the hospital where his cancer-stricken daughter was being treated. “He saw several less-fortunate families in his situation with no place to go so he invited them to stay with him and that’s when he came up with the idea of establishing a foundation at a corporate level to provide this type of service,” Kovack said.

– David Rutherford

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