New Associate Nicky Bates Joins Staff of Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

Nicky Bates has joined Ronald McDonald House of Detroit as marketing and development associate – leading the nonprofit’s social media and raising funds. Previously, she worked at a Detroit-based fundraising firm. She began her career at Focus Hope.

“I wanted to be at one place that I was passionate about and this position allows me to be a spokesperson and fundraiser for an organization that keeps families close when their kids are ill. Detroit is where I want to be and the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit is where I need to be,” Bates said.

Bates will work closely with Chrissy Cooper, director of marketing, and Jennifer Litomisky, executive director. She will also interact with professional staff at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where the House is building a satellite suite for families to stay overnight or relax.

Bates is a graduate of Michigan State University, with a B.A. in social relations and policy.

She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professions, Greater Detroit Chapter, where she was awarded a Marjorie S. Fisher Fellowship.

She is active in the community and serves as chair of the cultivation committee for Friends of Eastern Market. She lives near Midtown Detroit and is excited about riding her bike to work.

The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit provides a “home away from home” for the families of children who are hospitalized, most often at The Children’s Hospital of Michigan. No family is turned away due to an inability to pay. The nonprofit has a four-star rating in Charity Navigator, and was ranked as one of the best managed nonprofits by Crains Detroit Business.

Ninth Annual Escape to Belle Isle run raises $45,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

 

Babies in strollers, families, teens, young adults, middle-aged men and women, and people in their 70s totaling about 800 gathered on Belle Isle on July 15 for the 9th annual Escape to Belle Isle race/walk, which netted $45,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.

The race course started and ended at the Belle Isle Casino, with a gorgeous view of Scott Fountain, the Detroit River and the Detroit skyline. The top male (and overall) winner of the 10K was Aaron McLemore at 38:50; Erin Webster was the winning female at 41:42. For the 5K race, the top male (and overall) winner was Kyle Johnson at 16:26; Allison Lucas led the female category at 20:25.

Race organizer Jenna Greenman, of West Bloomfield, served as master of ceremonies and cheered on the runners as they crossed the finish line. Her husband Milt Greenman led the volunteers and set up the course.

Jenna said, “It’s great to see so many people attend – runners, walkers, families. We even allow people to run with their dogs. People like the uniqueness of this race and keep coming back. One female runner comes from Ohio every year and explores the city after the race. Another runner, Ronald Ramirez, runs the race and his six grandkids do the fun run.”

This year, the race enveloped the GOah Noah race – an annual fall run/walk held in Shelby Township, which has benefitted the House for the past eight years. The namesake of the GOah Noah race, Noah Wexler, was there to cheer on the racers. His family, mother Renee Sulllivan and dad Bob Wexler, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House when he was being treated for a rare brain tumor at age 9. He has since made a strong recovery.

“We had a fantastic turnout this year,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. “The money raised at this race helps fund operations. We provide families with a bedroom and private bathroom and access to a vast kitchen, a beautiful garden, and much more. We offer a house full of love and support when families need it most.”

Other fun activities that made the race unique included portraits by sketch artist Darryl Swift, a Magic Mirror photo booth, and music by D.J. Michael Karach, which matched the crowd’s high energy level. New this year was a spring warm-up run in April on the Belle Isle course, open to registered runners.

“We could not put on a successful race without the dedication of our loyal friends and colleagues, and the awesome staff and connections of the Ronald McDonald House,” Jenna added. She is president-elect of the board of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, which has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.

Kitch Attorneys & Counselors, Absopure and Running Fit were lead sponsors of the race. Other companies and organizations sent volunteers, including Kohl’s, La-Z-Boy and the Michigan Association of CPAs (MICPA).

8th Annual Spring Tea raised $20,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

 

Families and friends came together for the spring tea on April 22 at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. With ticket prices, a silent auction, and a percentage of sales from Saks Fifth Avenue’s onsite Ippolita jewelry sale, the event raised $20,000.

Andrew Manning, of Wixom, a former guest at the House, told of the medical saga that he and his wife Vanessa Yaldoo went through when they learned their newborn daughter Camden had Hirschsprungs disease, a birth defect in which she had nerve cells missing at the end of the bowel, throughout the colon and in 40 percent of the small intestine. Now one-year-old, Camden came to the event, looking adorable, along with big sister, Carly, age 8. The couple is expecting a son in May, and their two-year-old daughter Claire did not attend.

The family stayed two months at the House. Manning said, “The most important thing is that we didn’t feel like we were alone. Small gestures made a big difference. The power of a single night’s rest or a home-cooked meal can help mend a broken soul. I knew this was a home to start healing in. We now consider everyone at the House our newfound family.”

Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, said, “I’m glad we were there for you.” She presented the family with a glass heart.

Litomisky also announced the “Deborah Virgiles Family Fund,” in memory of former board president Deborah Virgiles, who was a co-chair of the tea since its inception and died last spring. Contributions to the fund will be used to supplement the unpaid cost of the room. Of the actual $200 per night room cost, guests only pay $10 per night. No family is turned away due to an inability to pay.

The tea drew 160 people. Saxophonist Yancyy entertained with light jazz, while Darrell Swift sketched portraits and a balloon master whipped up balloon creations for kids. Teresa Saputo, of Oakland Township, and Kyla Marcial, of Clinton Township, co-chaired the event and are board members of the House.

Ninth annual Jazzy Holiday Tea raised record-high $20,000 for Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

A fashion show featuring women business leaders and dynamic volunteers was a highlight at the 9th annual Jazzy Holiday Tea, which raised more than $20,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit on Dec. 3 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

The holiday tea drew more than 80 guests who bonded with the guest emcees Fox 2 news anchor Charlie Langton and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris as they told how the staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit care for families of children who are hospitalized.

Stephanie Oram, owner of Accessories by Stephanie in West Bloomfield, showed fashions by Joseph Ribkoff, paired with unique necklaces, bracelets and designer purses.

Langton and Judge Langford Morris described the fashions with great humor and also conducted a live auction of a cashmere poncho with a mink collar donated by Arthur Bricker of Bricker-Tunis Furs, which brought $500.

“The holiday tea is important to our expansion campaign to raise $3 million through the end of this year,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. She predicted the campaign would reach its goal and also announced that Crain’s Detroit Business recently named the House a finalist for its Best Managed Nonprofits 2016. (The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit was also a finalist in 2013.)

Event Chair and House Board Member Charlene Mitchell-Rodgers, of West Bloomfield, worked closely with the Ronald McDonald House staff, vendors, sponsors and the Townsend Hotel to make it a first-class event.

“The tea was magnificent. The mood of the guests was so positive and upbeat; people had fun,” said Mitchell-Rodgers. “We raised money and we raised another level of awareness about the House through our emcees and among guests, who posted pictures and positive comments on social media.”

Mike and Mike (violinist Michael Saxon and keyboard player Michael Evans) performed mellow jazz music. Sketch artist Darrell Swift drew caricatures of guests. A silent auction featured jewelry, home décor items and children’s gift baskets, donated by local merchants. HLT Flower Shop, formerly Wesley Berry Flowers, donated flower arrangements.

For families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, a $10 daily fee is charged for a guest room and use of common areas including a kitchen, laundry room, gathering space, playroom and serenity garden. No family is turned away due to a lack of funds.

Jazzy Holiday Tea & fashion show to benefit Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

Jazzy Holiday Tea, a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, will be held Dec. 3 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Townsend Hotel, 100 Townsend in Birmingham. All are welcome. Guests will enjoy a traditional tea and fashion show of women’s tops, jewelry and scarves, enhanced by music of the Jazz duo Mike and Mike.

Fox 2 news anchor Charlie Langton and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris will co-emcee this 9th annual holiday event. The fashion show sponsor is Stephanie Oram, owner of Accessories by Stephanie in West Bloomfield.

“This holiday tea raises funds to help the children and families we serve,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. “Our staff and volunteers help parents with the physical needs for a room and a meal and also provide love and support during a difficult time of caring for a seriously ill child.”

This year, attendees and others can bid on three luxury items prior to the event and the highest bidders will be announced at the tea. Those luxury items are a 7-night stay at a timeshare in Palm Desert, Calif., donated by David Sonnenschein, a financial adviser; a $500 gift certificate good toward a $1,000 fashion item at James Jewelry Designs; and a cashmere poncho with a mink collar donated by Arthur Bricker of Bricker Tunis Furs. HLT Flower Shop, formerly Wesley Berry Flowers, is donating flower arrangements. Additionally, there will be a silent auction at the event.

The event chair is Charlene Mitchell-Rodgers, of West Bloomfield. “As a board member (of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit), I’m committed to serving. My line of work involves event planning and this tea combines an elegant venue with fashion and fun. People are happy to be part of a holiday event that makes them smile.”

For families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, a $10 daily fee is charged for a guest room and use of common areas including a kitchen, laundry room, gathering space, playroom and serenity garden. No family is turned away due to a lack of funds. The House is wrapping up a two-year, $3 million expansion campaign at year-end, with just $200,000 left to raise.

To RSVP for the Jazzy Holiday Tea, visit https://www.rmhc-detroit.org/calendar-of-events/or call (313) 745-5909. Cost is $65 for adults, $25 for children. Attire is dressy casual or holiday style.

GOah Noah! 8th annual bike, walk, 5K run to be held Oct. 1

The 8th Annual GOah Noah! bike ride, walk and 5K trail run will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, at Stony Creek Metropark to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. The 5K competitive trail run starts at 9:30 a.m., with an accompanying bike ride, and 5K walk starting near the West Branch picnic area.

The theme is Wellness! with exhibits and demonstrations by local wellness professionals. A D.J. and sketch artist will add to the festivities, and there will be a 50/50 drawing. Light refreshments will be provided. Event sponsors are McDonald’s, McCain, and Dr. Pepper.

All 5K runners will receive a medal. The race cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children, ages 12 and under. (After Sept. 25, the cost increases to $35 and $20. Registration begins at 9 a.m.) Pre-register online: https://www.rmhc-detroit.org/event/goah-noah-2016/ or call 313-745-5909. A $10 fee or Metropark pass is required for park entry.

Renee Sullivan, of Shelby Township, started the event to help parents cope with medical crises. It is named after her son, Noah Wexler, who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, medulloblastoma, at age 9. He survived and is thriving as a 17-year-old student in 11th grade at Utica High School.

The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit offers a home away from home to families who are dealing with serious health issues that require the hospitalization of a child. The majority of families who stay at the House are tending to children with cancer.

Sullivan said, “Noah has been cancer-free for eight years and wants to know what more he can do to give back to those who’ve helped us along the way. The staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit have helped thousands of families over the years. This is our way to contribute to the cause of helping families deal with and overcome their child’s cancer.”

“It’s always a great family event for people of all ages, from babies to seniors. There’s something for everyone. It really is a fun time,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. “Funds raised at this grassroots event will go toward our expansion campaign.”

Last year, Noah’s brother Jack Wexler, now 15, won first-place for his age group and was second place overall. Runners do it for fitness, fun or to win – it’s all about their goals.

Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea raised funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit raised nearly $10,000 at the Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea on Dec. 5 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. More than 90 guests attended the 8th annual festive event and many bought raffle tickets and bid on silent auction items, ranging from holiday gift baskets to a night for two at the Townsend Hotel. Jazz duo Mike and Mike (violinist Michael Saxon and keyboard player Michael Evans) performed.

Event sponsor Bricker-Tunis Furs showcased its new Italian collection with a fashion show narrated by jazz singer Kimmie Horne, who modeled exotic furs. Several board members and friends modeled men’s and women’s fur and leather attire in front of an appreciative audience.

Fox 2 Health Reporter Deena Centofani served as master of ceremonies. She told the audience that she stayed overnight at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit to be with a friend whose son was hospitalized after a severe injury. She was touched by the House’s staff and volunteers who provided compassion and hope during a parent’s worst-case scenario: the serious illness or injury of a child.

“Being here today means that you are contributing to the nearly 2,000 families from around the world who stay at the House each year,” Centofani said.

“This is the last fundraising event of the year for the House and it is going toward the $3 million expansion campaign,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.
Co-chairs are Treva Beckius, of Grosse Pointe, and Charlene Mitchell, of West Bloomfield, new board members to the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.

Beckius shared her personal connection to the Ronald McDonald House with the guests. She and her husband Reggie and two of their three sons stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Wisconsin when her middle son Aaron, then 12 years old, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2006.
“We could have paid to stay at a hotel, but we wouldn’t have had the love and support that we got from the staff and volunteers at the House,” she said.

An inspirational video told the story of former resident Rachel Skousen, of West Bloomfield, who called the House a “comforting place with healing grace.” She said, “Our kids need that. It keeps families together.”
Arthur Bricker, owner of Bricker-Tunis furs, said, “Our business has always supported worthy charities and we are proud to support the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Our new connection is very special to me personally. My family endured a lot of agonizing times when my daughter, now an adult, was born with a rare and debilitating condition. I appreciate the work that the Ronald McDonald House does to make families comfortable when they have a child who is hospitalized with an illness.”

Blossoms, of Birmingham, donated floral arrangements for the tea.

For guests at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, a $10 daily fee is charged for a guest room and use of common areas including a kitchen, laundry room, playroom and entertainment areas. No family is turned away due to a lack of funds.

Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea on Dec. 5 features fur and leather fashion show to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

The Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea on Dec. 5 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham serves as a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Guests are invited to high tea, featuring a fashion show of the new Italian collection from Bricker-Tunis Furs, and jazz by Mike and Mike. Fox 2 Health Reporter Deena Centofani will serve as master of ceremonies. Cost is $60, and proceeds go toward the House’s expansion campaign. “Yearly this event has raised significant funds to help the children and families we serve,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.

“The beautiful Townsend Hotel provides a warm, inviting holiday spirit. The attendees not only get a delicious tea service but have the chance to bid on silent auction items and do a little holiday shopping – all while supporting the House and our expansion campaign.”

To RSVP, visit www.rmhc-detroit.org or call (313) 745-5909. Co-chairs are Treva Beckius, of Grosse Pointe, and Charlene Mitchell, of West Bloomfield.

Summer in the city: Race around Belle Isle on July 18

Detroit… The 7th annual Escape to Belle Isle – Spirit of Detroit Challenge, a grassroots 5k and 10k run/walk that draws around 800 participants, will be held July 18 at 8:30 a.m. on Belle Isle. The Kids Fun Run of 400 yards starts at 10 a.m.

This summer event, which also features music, face painting, a sketch artist and refreshments, attracts families as well as competitive runners who use it as a training event. Last year, Mike Anderson, of Walled Lake, came in first place for the 10K race and went on to win the men’s division of the Detroit Free Press-Talmer Bank marathon.

The cost is $35 for the 5k/10k and $25 for the Kids’ Fun Run. Proceeds benefit Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, which offers a home away from home for families whose children are hospitalized for serious illnesses.

The race is sponsored by Kitch Attorneys & Counselors, Absopure, Running Fit, and The Thurswell Law Firm, PLLC. The race was started by Jenna and Milt Greenman of West Bloomfield, both attorneys who run together as a couple. They saw a void in summer runs in the city of Detroit and decided to change that, while raising money for a good cause.

Jenna is a board member of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. She and her husband are dedicated to helping raise funds for the Hearts, Hands and Home campaign to benefit expanded services at the new Ronald McDonald House of Detroit at 4707 St. Antoine.

They became aware of how important it was for families to have a place to stay to be close to their children while they are hospitalized through their work on medical malpractice cases.

Jenna, who has run 13 marathons, serves as master of ceremony at the Race to Belle Isle, and calls out runners’ names as they pass the finish line.

Adult registrants will receive a dry-fit tech shirt and custom medal; kids will receive a T-shirt, medal, and trophy. The top male and female in the 5K and 10K will receive a gift card prize ($75 and $100, respectively). Register online at www.escapetobelleisle.com by July 16 (11 p.m.) to guarantee a tech shirt. Participants can also register on race day. Shirt and number pick-up will be from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. on race day at the Belle Isle Casino. A recreation passport or day pass is required for entry to the state park.

Ronald McDonald House of Detroit holds successful grand opening gala

Detroit … Nearly 200 guests attended the Grand Opening Gala for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit on May 30 at Max M. Fisher Music Center to celebrate the new House at 4707 St. Antoine, Suite 200, in Detroit’s Midtown. The event raised $37,000 for the House.

The theme, “A night on the town in Midtown” played well as guests, attired in long gowns and tuxedos, enjoyed cocktails and appetizers in the reception area of the Music Center. The character Ronald McDonald joined in the festivities, posing for photos and joking with guests. Dinner in the Music Box room of the Music Center featured lavish food stations and classical music by Sasha.

During the reception portion of the event, guests were able to board a shuttle that took them to the House, located about 1-1/2 mile away, for a tour. Guests said they were impressed by the size, the attractive furnishings and the elegance of the House, which opened to residents on April 1, 2015.

During the program, Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the House, spoke about “The Heroes behind the House,” giving thanks for the work of Gary Granader, who oversaw construction. His father Harry built the first Ronald McDonald House of Detroit in 1979, next to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Jackie Meara, regional director of Global Operations for Ronald McDonald House Charities, noted the importance of longtime support of McDonald’s owners and operators and La-Z-Boy, which furnishes all the new Houses in the U.S. and around the world.

Larry Gold, CEO of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, spoke about the partnership between the hospital and the House. He recalled that one parent said to him, “On the worst day of my life (when my child was in the hospital), the House was the best thing that happened to me.” Families who had stayed at the House spoke about their experience and told how much the kindness of the staff and comfortable House meant to them during a very trying time in their lives.

Donors who contributed $10,000 or more to the Hearts, Hands and Home Campaign were given engraved crystal hearts on stage, presented by Litomisky and Teresa Saputo, chair of the campaign.
“The gala was our way to thank donors for their gracious support and generous contributions over the years and especially during the renovation for the new House,” said Litomisky.

To date, the House has raised nearly $2 million for a $3 million campaign that runs through August 2016. Learn more at rmhc-detroit.org or by calling 313.745-5909.