Monday July 22nd, 2024 12:56PM

Atlanta Ronald McDonald House continuing to support families after 45 years

By Austin Eller News Director

45 years after its founding in 1979, the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities continues to support and assist families with ill, injured or recovering children.

Bob Swoszowski, owner and operator of McDonald's of Northeast Georgia, was one of the founding operators who helped bring the Ronald McDonald House to Atlanta. Swoszowski, a Gainesville native, said he opened his first McDonald’s with his brother-in-law and partner Frank Markett in 1973.

“Somewhere around that time, the Ronald McDonald House program started developing,” Swoszowski said. 

Swoszowski said he became president of the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Owner Operators Association shortly after, which led to him forming a search committee and visiting the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.

“We came back and convinced very easily our advertising cooperatives that we should look into a Ronald McDonald House here,” Swoszowski said.

The business owner said he has always had a strong involvement with the Ronald McDonald House - stemming back to a doctor in Philadelphia telling him that 70% of his cancer patients would not live past their teenage years.

“It absolutely broke my heart,” Swoszowski said. “And I decided that I would push like crazy to make sure that we did all we could to establish a Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta.”

The charity assists families in a variety of ways, ranging from lodging accommodations near pediatric hospitals to mobile medical access with the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.

The McDonald’s owner/operators do not own the Ronald McDonald House. It is heavily supported by community gifts and donations.

Swoszowski launched a pledge in recognition of the Atlanta organization’s 45th anniversary. He decided to match donations to the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House up to $45,000, which Swoszowski said was far exceeded.

“From what I understand, they’ve already raised $130,000,” Swoszowski.

While the match pledge has already been met, donations can still be given to the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House on the organization’s website.

“Even though it’s called the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, the families who come are not from Atlanta for the most part … because they need hotel rooms,” Swoszowski said. “These folks, say from Hall County, who do support the Ronald McDonald House, are really helping their own neighbors from Northeast Georgia."

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