More than 500 attendees celebrated Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville’s 30-year anniversary with a Caribbean Nights-themed McGala fundraising event on May 19 at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach.
McGala presented by Joe and Nan Ferrara highlighted the stories of families served at the Ronald McDonald House, as well as the Ronald McDonald Family Room located inside Wolfson Children’s Hospital. McGala raised more than $300,000 to support the families of critically ill children.
At the start of the event, attendees were welcomed with an explosion of vibrant colors, tikis and palm trees, island-inspired hors d'oeuvres and a live steel drum performance during the Martinique Cocktail Reception. During the program, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville’s Executive Director Diane Boyle spoke to the importance of the mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville and the evening’s theme.
“Tonight’s theme pays tribute to the many families who over the years have come to us from the Caribbean,” said Boyle. “They come to us from Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, Mexico, the Bahamas and most recently a number of families from Puerto Rico. They seek the best healthcare for their sick child here in Jacksonville. As you can imagine, coming to Jacksonville from the Caribbean is not easy. It’s not easy physically, emotionally or financially. This is why our mission is so important.”
To add to the celebration, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville welcomed back one of the first families to enter its doors when the first house opened in 1988. An infant at the time, Tanner Wright, along with his mother, Cheryl Wright, stayed at the first house that was located on Jefferson Street. Today, Tanner is a resident serving in pediatrics at Tampa General Hospital. While addressing the crowd, Dr. Wright explained how his experience at the Ronald McDonald House helped shape him throughout his residency saying, “I now understand its role — it is one of healing.”
McGala also recognized honorary chairs Peter and Meg Kuchar of Ponte Vedra Beach for their ongoing support of McGala and the children and families of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville.