On one of the coldest nights in Austin this year, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas had its sixth annual Lights of Love 5K. The frigid cold and blustering wind did not prevent supporters from coming out to walk or run in support of the services RMHC provides. The event included a full holiday theme, complete with Santa Claus, Christmas music and lit up trees all to benefit children and families who use their services.
The event began with a chance to connect with team members, visit Santa and discover the great work that Ronald
McDonald House Charities does in the community. The Kid’s K kicked off the night’s aerobic activities and allowed even very young children to participate. Following this was the 5K, which travels through the Mueller Neighborhood. Every year, families who live in the Mueller Development come out to show their support by cheering on the runners and walkers.
With more than 3000 people registered before the race even began, Lights of Love was extremely successful. This is Lexi Riemer‘s first Lights of Love as she has only been Development Manager for about six months. She explained that Lights of Love had already hit their goal of $250,000 before the race and so made their new goal $275,000.
All of the money raised stays within the community and helps those facing a pediatric medical challenge. The Ronald McDonald House is on the Mueller grounds and provides a “home away from home” for those who are in a challenging time and whose children are undergoing medical care. The 30 rooms inside allow multiple families to stay at once and last year they opened another Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. David’s Medical Center.
Some of the teams were even made up of those who had at one point stayed in a Ronald McDonald House. Team MJD and Caleb’s Army were two such teams and were also top raisers. Now they participate to give back and help others as well as to meet those with similar experiences. The biggest fundraiser though was Pediatric Dental Professionals who managed to raise more than $10,000 for the cause. These funds are what RMHC depends upon as only 15 percent of their budget comes from McDonalds. The rest comes from fundraisers such as Lights of Love and Bandana Ball, a Western themed gala which will happen in March.
For many of us, including the night’s emcee, Keri Bellacosa, Lights of Love is what makes it feel like the holidays. Everyone present was endowed with the true holiday spirit of helping others.