PEORIA — Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois is the latest addition to the city's medical district.
The $7 million, 4 1/2 story building with 22 bedrooms which is coming to the corner of Spalding and Monroe avenues will break ground in September.
"Construction should take about 14 months with the facility's planned opening set for late October 2019," said Kelly Thompson, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois.
Peoria follows Springfield as the second downstate city to feature a Ronald McDonald House, she said. Five Ronald McDonald Houses serve the Chicago area.
The Ronald McDonald House will serve any child receiving care at one of the area hospitals up to his or her 22nd birthday along with family, she said. "The stay could be one day or up to a year. The cost to the family is free," said Thompson.
Rooms are designed suite-style to accommodate four to five people, she said. "The room becomes the family's home while a child is receiving care," said Thompson, who credited Gordon Honegger, former chairman of Morton Community Bank, with finding the location for the home.
"Two years ago on Memorial Day, he called me to say, 'I have the perfect place for you.' The key was to be close to the hospitals," she said.
The location by the Scottish Rite Cathedral provides proximity to OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois and UnityPoint Health-Methodist. "Ninety percent of the children's hospitals in the United States are served by a Ronald McDonald House," said Thompson, noting that both area hospitals are active supporters of the project.
The facility will have a wing designed specifically for families whose children are receiving treatment at St. Jude Midwest Affiliate, said Julie Locke of the DAX Foundation. "The DAX wing will provide five rooms on the second floor with a playroom and laundry, all on that floor," she said.
The DAX Foundation donated $1 million to the construction of the Ronald McDonald House in Peoria, part of the $5 million already raised, said Locke.
"One of the features in the house is a gathering space on the first floor so that families get to know one another and help provide support that's so much needed," she said.
Thompson said that 80 percent of the fundraising goal of $7 million is expected to be raised by the time of the September ground breaking. Area McDonald's restaurant owner/operators have pledged to raise $500,000 towards the Ronald McDonald House, she said.
Fundraising will continue once the house is up and running, said Thompson. "We want to raise $1 million a year for annual operations," she said. Honegger, Locke and Terry Clark, a McDonald's owner/operator in Peoria, head up a 25-person committee that's been meeting monthly for the past year to plan the Ronald McDonald House effort locally.
"Our goal is to provide a hot meal served every day for those staying at the house. We call it 'Meals from the Heart,'" said Thompson.
Farnsworth Group and River City Construction have been contracted to design and build the 40,000 square-foot structure.
Adopt-the-House sponsorship opportunities as well as individual giving opportunities are available and can be viewed online at www.rmhc-centralillinois.org.
Steve Tarter covers city and county government for the Journal Star. He can be reached at 686-3260 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter@SteveTarter and facebook.com/tartersource.