Our History

It all began in 1973 when Philadelphia Eagles football player Fred Hill and his wife, Fran, learned that their daughter, Kim, had leukemia.

While receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), they met other families who drove hours to the hospital to be with their children, only to sleep overnight in waiting room chairs and eat from vending machines because they had nowhere else to go.

Fred and Fran Hill decided to do something for these families, teaming up with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dr. Audrey Evans and local McDonald’s owner/operators. McDonald’s gift of the Shamrock Shakes’ proceeds made it possible to purchase and restore a house near the hospital where these families could stay and the first Ronald McDonald House was born. Since that time, more than 350 Houses have been opened worldwide.


Our Story

The Ronald McDonald House in Durham opened its doors on February 1, 1980. It was the first House in North Carolina and the 13th in the nation. It was also the first Ronald McDonald House to open without the support of a professional football team. Instead, it was developed and supported entirely by the surrounding community – a tradition that continues today.



Pediatric-Family Center of North Carolina is incorporated; leadership volunteers begin public speaking to raise awareness and support.


The Ronald McDonald House in Durham opens with 13 bedrooms.


The Durham House expands to 20 bedrooms, including two “special needs suites” to accommodate children needs isolation, such as after transplant operations.


As a “tip-off” for their annual basketball tournament fundraiser for RMH, the Duke Women’s Basketball Team pairs up with children in the House to paint ceiling tiles – a tradition that guest families still continue.


A dining room is constructed and two additional special needs suites are added.


The corporate name is changed to Ronald McDonald House of Durham, Inc.


The first annual gala is held. The Durham House gets the internet and its first email address.


A Family Room program is opened at Duke Children’s Hospital.


A Family Room program is opened at WakeMed Children’s Hospital in Raleigh in memory of Chyler Huebner.


The Durham House expands to 55 bedrooms and adds a chapel, learning center, playroom, computer room, community room. Extensive renovations are made to existing House.


A new Ronald McDonald House opens at WakeMed. The Durham House celebrates its 35th anniversary. The name is changed to Ronald McDonald House of Durham & Wake.


Four sleeping rooms open within Duke Children’s Hospital.

RMH and its programs have evolved throughout the years, but providing comfort and support to seriously ill children and their families is still the heart of its mission. With the ongoing support of the community, RMH helps keep thousands of families close by their seriously ill or injured children when they need their families most.

Join us in offering love, sharing comfort, inspiring community and sustaining hope for the children and their families. Your unique talents and gifts can make a difference here.


Our Mission

Built with love, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham and Wake offers a comforting “home-away-from-home” and a community of support for seriously ill children and their families.