Ronald McDonald House of Dallas breaks new ground

By Erin Prather Stafford 

The Ronald McDonald House of Dallas has broken ground for its new, super-sized 60,000-square-foot home.

Located at 4707 Bengal St., the new structure is closer to both Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

During its 27-year history, Dallas' Ronald McDonald establishment has served as a home away from home for more than 24,000 families of seriously ill children who came to the city seeking medical treatment in area hospitals.

Dr. Roger Unger new low res
Participating in the groundbreaking for the new Ronald McDonald House of Dallas are (from left) Caroline Gehan, Diana Strauss, Pam Perella and Cyndi Bassel. The house is located on Bengal Street in the vicinity of Children's Medical Center Dallas, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and
UT Southwestern University Hospital.
''We feel so fortunate to have acquired 4.5 acres in the heart of the prestigious Southwestern Medical District,'' said Executive Director Barbara McDermott. ''By providing a caring, supportive, home-like environment, the Ronald McDonald House keeps the family intact and helps allow a family to establish a normal routine in the midst of crisis.''

The new house will have 60 bedrooms — doubling the current capacity — and amenities that include a library, a chapel, an outdoor play space, a meditation garden and common living areas. It also will have technological resources to assist children with school and parents with work. The cost per night to stay at the house will remain $10.

As a signature design element, the house will include a beacon so that children staying in one of the nearby hospitals can see the light at night and know that their family is close at hand. The beacon element is possible because of a $1 million gift from the Perot families in Dallas.

Development is being funded by a public campaign called ''Beacon of Hope,'' which is working to raise $23 million. Honorary chairs are Annette and Harold Simmons. Alan Engstrom and Mersina Stubbs are the leadership campaign co-chairs.

The honorary campaign committee includes Joel T. Allison, Norm Bagwell, Paul Bass, Vicki Chapman, Chris J. Durovich, Tucker and Rich Enthoven, Linda Perryman Evans, Robert Hallam, Martha and Don Miller, J.C. Mont­gomery, Lydia Haggar Novakov, Jeanne L. and David Phillips, Carolyn and Dr. Karl Rathjen, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at UT Southwestern, Phil Romano, Peggy and Carl Sewell, Southwestern Medical Foundation President Dr. Kern Wildenthal, and Susan and Joel Williams.

The campaign cabinet includes Cyndi Bassel, UT Southwestern vice president for external relations, Carol Dalton, Sandra Estess, Caroline Gehan, Peggy Hill, Bob Penn, Jake Pollack, Debbie Scripps, Harry Smith, Jim Wales and Emilynn Wilson.

The campaign, started in 2007, has raised $19.1 million, including $6 million from the sale of the current Ronald McDonald House property on Southwestern Medical Avenue to UT Southwestern.