Main Event: Gala raises $200K to help expand RMH

It was an evening of dinner, dancing and diamonds to benefit the Ronald McDonald Houseof Rochester at the 14th annual Hearts and Diamonds Spectacularon Feb. 4. Two-hundred seventy people attended the event at Somerby Golf Course in Byron and raised more than $200,000 for the house.

"Tickets for Hearts and Diamonds sold out within hours," said executive director Peggy Elliott. "We're thrilled to have the community support. It's a special event for the house, a celebration of our mission to serve children and families."

The house, at 850 Second St. SW, has 42 rooms, which always are occupied, and there almost always is a waiting list. Last year, the house welcomed 863 families and had to turn away 1,000 families.

"We are under a major capital campaign to acquire land to the east to expand the house," said Ronald McDonald House board president Doug Holtan. "Fifty percent of the dollars have been raised. We need to raise another $4.5 million to move forward and break ground."

This year's event chairpersons were Becky Harris, Jan Andrewsand Sue Bouquet. It was Andrews' first year as chairperson. She became involved with the organization, she said, "because of the kids. They're super brave. They fight a battle most of us can't even imagine. They're very inspiring."


It was Harris' 14th year on the organizing committee. Since 1999, she also has volunteered her time as a housewarmer at the Ronald McDonald House, giving tours to family and greeting donors.

"I've loved every single minute of it," she said. "I've never heard a child complain. They are heroes, beautiful little souls."

Attendees Finolaand Michael O'Sullivanhave come to the event for the last 10 years.

"It's a fantastic event," Finola said. "The part of the program when the family speaks about their experience at the house is a moment where we stop and reflect on how lucky we are to have healthy children and think about what we have to offer other people."

Darryland Candy Ashhave attended almost every Hearts and Diamonds event.

"We love to support the house and its mission to support kids and family when they need it most," Darryl said. "It strikes us as a wonderful thing to do."

"This is the best event in Rochester," said Lynn Clarey,of Sterling State Bank, event Premier Sponsor. "All the good it does to support families and kids. It's remarkable what they do. It's an honor to be a part of this."

Jennyand Michael Hosfeldhave attended all but one of the Hearts and Diamonds Spectacular events.


Michael said his favorite part of the evening is listening to the speaker.

"It's great there is a place, when facing a crisis, families can feel at home," he said. "The other people staying at the house breathe life into you, as they are experiencing similar things. That's what feeds you when you're down."

The Capesiusfamily — Joeand Brenda, and their 16-year-old son, Bryce— stayed at the house last year, as Bryce received proton beam therapy for a brain tumor.

"The Ronald McDonald House is a house of love," Joe said. "The house's big picture window that faces north has a big red heart on it because they are all about love. You can tell they have a focus, desire and mission to help whoever they can help. As Jesus told his disciples, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will open. And it was."

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