Honoring community service
McDonald’s Owner/Operator Bob Lane recently received the Gerry Newman McTLC Award of Excellence from Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), which included a $100,000 grant, which he in turn is donating to the construction of a new Ronald McDonald House in Wichita.
“It is given in recognition of charitable work done to benefit children,” Lane said of the award. “They don’t give it to an owner/operator every year.”
Lane was recognized for his work in the community over the years.
His first project as a volunteer for RMHC was leading the effort to build two Ronald McDonald Houses in Wichita. His fundraising efforts gained momentum when Lane led a team of his fellow owner/operators and McDonald’s staff people in hosting the 4th annual McDonald’s All-American Basketball Tournament at Wichita State University in 1981 – the year that featured High School Seniors Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing. That game raised more for the local RMHC Chapter than the three previous games combined.
Opening both Ronald McDonald Houses helped drive his life-long commitment to philanthropy. Today Lane and members of his family continue their active involvement with RMHC Wichita.
His community involvements include starting and funding little league programs, serving as co-chair for the capital campaign for the YMCA and the BG Products Veterans Sports Complex, as well as being a major contributor to the Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Cancer Center. But he said the most important was for his work in the Ronald McDonald House in Wichita.
“The impact that Bob’s philanthropic efforts have in his community are truly significant contributions supporting local children and families,” said Sheila Musolino, president and chief executive officer, RMHC. “It is an honor to celebrate the extraordinary work that’s been done.”
Lane received his award during a special dinner held at Stearman, then he was presented with a $100,000 grant at the annual Awards of Excellence in Rosemont, Ill., at which 1,400 people were in attendance of a banquet. It was up to Lane to choose where the grant would go, which was an easy choice for him.
The Ronald McDonald Houses in Wichita are undergoing a change, which will bring a new 20-bedroom house inside the Health Strategies building at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. This will replace the two current 10-bedroom houses.
“This $100,000 will be one of the first major gifts,” Lane said. “In addition Jennifer (Lane’s wife) and I donated an additional $100,000 for this project.”
The project total is $3 million.
“The mission is to be a home away from home for long-term children patients,” he said.
The current houses are at Wesley and St. Francis, but they have not seen as much use at St. Francis, while Wesley is overbooked almost every night. He said parents who have children at Wesley don’t want to stay at the St. Francis home because it is too far away.
“The point of it is they are within one minute walking,” he said.
The new home will allow parents to go across the street on the walkway and directly into the new pediatric center.
“We need to have a bigger presence where the children are,” he said. “It’s going to be really special.”
The goal is to complete the project in the next 16 to 18 months, doing the work at the same time the hospital is refurbishing the rest of the space to be offices for the pediatric doctors.
“Especially this time of year, people are thanking of how they can help others,” he said. “That’s something I’ve always done.”
Those efforts are not something Lane boasts about, but the RMHC executive director in Wichita, Susan Smythe, was thinking of those things when it came time for the award again.
Lane said Smythe called him one day and asked if he had seen the award. He said he had and she said they should nominate him. He said he told her she could do that, but he wouldn’t win.
“It was pretty surprising and humbling,” he said. “When I started thinking about the previous winners, plus all of the people around who do good things.”
Lane said he does not do the things he does because he was looking for an award.
“They are just things people asked me to help with and it needed to be done,” Lane said, “especially when it benefits children.”
The award is named for one of the founders of RMHC and its first president, Gerry Newman, who was a champion for the Charity, touching the lives of millions of children. Since 1988, The Gerry Newman McTLC Award of Excellence has honored the Charity’s founding mission partner and McDonald’s owner/operators who have stood out among all others for their efforts on behalf of children, and best exemplify Newman’s dedication to RMHC, a global nonprofit.
Each year the event attracts hundreds of business, community and health care leaders who are dedicated to helping the Charity support seven million children and families annually. This year’s celebration was marked with a special performances by Lennon & Maisy, singers, authors and actors from the hit TV show “Nashville” and Katharine McPhee, singer, songwriter, star of the popular TV show, “Scorpion,” and social activist.
Past recipients honored at the RMHC Awards of Excellence have included: Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health of the Republic of Rwanda (2015), Reggie Skhosana (2015), Linda Dunham (2014), Geoffrey Canada (2013), Jamie Lee Curtis (2012), Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Maggie Daley (2011), founder of Southwest Airlines, Herbert D. Kelleher (2010), seven-time NBA All-Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and founder of Alonzo Mourning Charities, Alonzo Mourning (2009), entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Peter and Ginny Ueberroth (2008), actress, producer, social activist and national outreach director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Marlo Thomas (2007), NCAA championship basketball coach and youth mentor, John Wooden (2006), the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps with actor Paul Newman accepting on their behalf (2005), actor, director and humanitarian, Danny Glover (2004), tenowned pediatric surgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson (2003), Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (2002), Tennis star Andrea Jaeger (2001), performer and humanitarian, Harry Belafonte (2000), wife of McDonald's Corporation founder Ray A. Kroc, the late Joan Kroc (1999), Betty Ford, former First Lady (1998), Retired U.S. Army General, Colin Powell (1997), acclaimed theologian, Henri J. M. Nouwen (1996), former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Antonia Novello (1995), Barbara Bush, former First Lady (1994), the late Fred Rogers (1993), Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1992), Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter (1991) and the late Jim Henson (1990).
Julie Clements can be reached at email@example.com.