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Updated Nov 14, 2012 - 3:05 pm

Mesa to add Ronald McDonald House for 2013

Nancy Roach, executive director of Ronald McDonald Charities and Ronald announce plans for another Ronald McDonald House in the Phoenix area. (Photo: Bob McClay/KTAR)

MESA, Ariz. -- Ronald McDonald is jumping for joy.

The famous clown, the public face of McDonald's hamburger chain, attended the announcement of a new Ronald McDonald house to be built at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa.

It will be the Valley's third Ronald McDonald House.

"We'll be able to serve the families from Cardon Children's Medical Center, which has always been a great need," said Nancy Roach, executive director of Ronald McDonald Charities.

The house provides families with a place to stay while their seriously ill child is hospitalized.

"For them to have a place to lay their head at night and talk to other families that are going through what they're going through and not worry about where their next meal is going to be is an incredible support to these families," said Roach.

The $2.1 million dollar house is being financed through private donations. The Gila River Indian Community has donated $500,000 of the nearly $1 million dollars that has been raised so far.

When completed next June, the house will feature three apartments with kitchens for families with children with suppressed immune systems.

It will also have 16 bedrooms, a community kitchen and dining room, a play area for children and an outdoor area for adults.

Roach said several Ronald McDonald House families have become success stories. One of them is Christy, a girl she met 11 years ago.

"Christy was 3 years old and had leukemia,"said Roach. "About two to three weeks ago, a family appeared at the front desk and asked for me. When I went out there, it was Christy. She's 14 now, and has a beautiful head of hair and has turned into a beautiful young woman."

The Valley's two other Ronald McDonald Houses are at Fifth Street near Thomas Road in Phoenix and at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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