It was time for Courtney’s 20 week ultrasound. Courtney, her husband Mark, and their two sons Abraham (5) and Luke (2 ½) were anxiously waiting to see their new baby. Everything was going well at first. They found out that they were having another baby boy and the ultrasound showed that he had all ten fingers and toes. As the ultrasound continued, though, the technician grew quiet and stopped making eye contact. The mood completely shifted in the room. A counselor soon entered to deliver the news that no family is ready to hear. Mark and Courtney were told that their baby had a congenital heart defect that would require life-saving surgery shortly after birth.
After researching their options around Florida, the Murray family decided that UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital was their best option. They knew making a daily commute from Jacksonville wasn’t feasible and staying in a hotel wasn’t affordable. Besides, with two older sons, the Murray family needed a place that could feel like home. Fortunately, their family had the support of the Ronald McDonald House every step of the way. 

Staying at the Ronald McDonald House came as quite a surprise to the Murray family. While the Murray family was used to supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities dating back to Mark’s high school days, they never expected to stay with one. Mark described his family’s stay as a touching experience. He said, “We never thought we would be the ones to benefit from Ronald McDonald House Charities.”

On February 14, 2018, their son, James, was born at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. James was immediately brought to the neonatal intensive-care unit to be monitored. The doctors confirmed that he was born with four heart defects in all. The Murray family originally thought they would only be in Gainesville for a few weeks for their son’s surgery and recovery, but various complications arose that delayed surgery. Their time in Gainesville more than doubled.

Mark said, “This time of waiting was the hardest thing we’d ever gone through, mentally, physically, or emotionally.” But Mark referred to the House as a sanctuary. He said it is a safe place to go where families are allowed to breathe, rest, laugh, or grieve. He went on to say that the House focuses on making life easier for families who are going through tough times by providing constant care, compassion, and concern.  Mark said, “We relied on the Ronald McDonald House to get us through our toughest days.”

While the House was a place to breathe and rest for Mark and Courtney, it was a place for fun and entertainment for their two older sons. When they weren’t playing on the playground or running through the garden, they were playing games, watching a movie, or reading a book. Abraham and Luke also really enjoyed watching groups come to the House and bake for the Sweets & Treats Program or cook for the Visiting Chef Program. The staff at the Ronald McDonald House also played a major role in helping the Murray family come up with fun activities to do in the Gainesville area to keep Abraham and Luke smiling, busy, and as worriless as possible.

After two open heart surgeries and two stays at the Ronald McDonald House, James and his family are doing better than ever! James is making great progress and his heart is beating strong. Mark said, “The Ronald McDonald House played a critical part in our being able to be where we are today. We really don’t know what we would have done without them.”

Become a Volunteer >
Wish List
Every small comfort makes our House more nurturing for our families.
We are currently in need of:
Teddy Bears
Disinfecting Wipes

The Family Room:
Individual Microwavable Meals (i.e. Hormel Compleats)
Individual Potato Chip Bags and Pretzels 
Filled Sandwich Crackers (i.e. Peanut Butter Crackers)

In addition, you can help us anytime online through our new Target online registry.

For more information about our wish list, please contact Sherry Houston at or (352) 374-4404 ext. 230.

See our Target Registry >
See our Wish List >
Cleaning for a Cause
Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida is sparkling after cleaning crews from all over Florida donated their time and energy to enhance the House. Triple-C System, Chris’ Carpet Care, Ocala Clipper Cleaning, and Accent American Inc. spent the day diligently cleaning the title floors, leather furniture, and area rugs. 

Brian Crain, owner and operator of Triple-C Systems, said that he and his team were excited to take part in this nationwide initiative and knew the impact it would have on the families staying at our House. “We understand what these families are going through and just wanted to help in any way we could,” Brian said.  

Executive Director, Sherry Houston, said, “Our 31-room House is at full occupancy 365 days a year, with our families spending majority of the time at the hospital, this wonderful cause gives the families a clean and comforting place to come back to. Having a clean House is necessary, but having crews come out and donate their supplies and energy to make it possible, is an incredible bonus.”
Brian said that Triple-C Systems is looking forward to coming back to RMHCNCF year after year. The cleaning crews are set to return in August of 2020.
Taste of Greater Gainesville Celebrity Judges Prepare Breakfast 
The families staying at the House were so grateful to have had the opportunity to be treated to a gourmet breakfast prepared by Chef Angie Shaghaghi. Chef Richard Brown, and Chef Jaz Moore. The chefs made a guest appearance at the House the morning of Taste of Greater Gainesville, where they were later celebrity judges for the 10th Annual Taste of Greater Gainesville Iron Chef Competition. Each chef has multiple years of professional culinary experience along with a burning passion for cooking.

The chefs created a beautiful display of delicious food for the families at the House to enjoy. The chefs were able to have a little fun and put their own unique twist on each of their creations. The families couldn’t get enough of the chefs’ breakfast masterpiece! Chef Jaz Moore said, “Being able to come into the Ronald McDonald House is always a pleasure and a humbling experience. My heart is filled with pure joy knowing the families are beyond words grateful, not only for the food we prepare but also the time that is given to do so.”
Visiting Chef Program
Our Visiting Chef Program is a volunteer opportunity for groups of up to ten friends, family members, or co-workers to cook a meal for families staying at the House. Families often don’t have the time, resources, or energy to prepare or purchase a meal. Coming to the House after a long day at the hospital to a fully prepared meal can make a great difference in a family’s day.

By participating in our Visiting Chef Program, you will be providing families with a delicious, hearty meal. You can be creative or keep it simple. It is up to you! Volunteers cooking for families will provide all the ingredients to make a home-cooked meal. If you and your group would like to participate in our Visiting Chef Program, but simply don't have the time to cook, don’t fret! Our Preferred Dinner Partners have it all taken care of for you. All you need to do is call one of our Preferred Dinner Partners and they will have dinner catered in to our families for you. 

To sign up for our Visiting Chef Program, please visit our website to fill out our program form. For more information, please view our Visiting Chef Guidelines. To have a meal catered in to the House, please visit our website to see our Preferred Dinner Partners. If you have any questions, please call Emily Pridgen, Director of House Operations and Programs, 352.374.4404 x 222.

Sign up for our Visiting Chef Program >
Thank you, Thornebrook Gallery!
RMHCNCF is so excited to announce that our House has received over 15 bright and beautiful paintings from Thornebrook Gallery. The paintings have been a wonderful new addition to our upstairs and downstairs hallways. This would have not been made possible without the support and dedication of the Thornebrook Gallery team.

The owner of Thornebrook Gallery, David Arrighi, said, “I was looking to make the families as comfortable as possible in their time of stress and need. We picked colors that would be calm and soothing for those seeing them.” David looks forward to hanging more paintings in our House and giving it that “homey” feel.
Red Shoe Affair
Join Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida for our 7th Annual Red Shoe Affair at the Exactech Arena at The Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday, August 17th, at 6PM. The Red Shoe Affair is the premier annual fundraising event for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida.

The 7th Annual Red Shoe Affair promises to be an extraordinary event in support of the Ronald McDonald House families. The venue will be beautifully decorated by Keith Watson Events. Embers Wood Grill will be providing exquisite cuisine, along with a fully stocked bar- beer, wine, and top shelf spirits. With music by Genius Entertainment, the night will be filled with dancing, laughing, and unforgettable memories. 

Tickets for the event are now available for purchase on our website. For more information, please contact Sherry Houston at 352-374-4404 x230 or We look forward to seeing you there!

Purchase Red Shoe Affair Tickets >

Thank you to our current sponsors:

Ruby Sponsors:

Gold Sponsors:
Gainesville Regional Utilities
McDonald’s of Gainesville
R.E. Robinson Remodeling & Custom Builders, LLC.

Silver Sponsors: 
Capital City Bank 
Dr. Michele Lossius
ELISA Technologies Inc.
Joe & Jodi Cox, J-Quint, LLC
Martin Brower
McKenzie's Moment
SCAD Media
Scherer Construction
Sherry & Joel Houston
Streicher Family
The Jimenez Family
Turano Florida Bun
Treweek Insurance Agency, LLC
University of Florida
Wood. Environment & Infrastructure Solutions

Bronze Sponsors: 
Campus USA Credit Union
Carlos M. & Olga V. del Sol
Florida Food Service, Inc.

Glass Sponsors: 
Comfort Temp Company  
Rosenzweig Family
Todd & Shelby Taylor

Thank you for supporting our house!
At RMH, we believe that when a child is hospitalized, the love and support of family is as powerful as the strongest medicine prescribed. It is because of friends like you that we can keep families close to each other and the care they need, when they need it most.

To support our House and keep families close, visit our website. We greatly appreciate your contribution to our Home.
With gratitude,

Sherry Houston
Executive Director
Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida

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Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida · 1600 SW 14th Street · Gainesville, Florida 32608 · USA