After consuming a traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage, my family piled into the minivan and visited the local McDonald's to get one last Shamrock Shake. I am proud of my Irish heritage, which I choose to celebrate by enjoying multiple Shamrock Shakes every March.
I was happy to learn tonight McDonald's continues to serve Shamrock Shakes for the next few weeks. Since a large Shamrock Shake has 830 calories, I may only have one more before next year. Well, maybe two, but no more than three.
An enthusiastic series of questions about the history of the Shamrock Shakes by the backseat passengers triggered a quick search on my phone when I arrived back at my home.
The answer to their questions is the basis of this post.
It all began with a little girl, a football team, and a visionary doctor. When Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill's 3-year-old daughter, Kim, was being treated for leukemia in 1974, his life changed. He and his wife, Fran, camped out on hospital benches and sat in cramped waiting rooms during Kim's three years of treatment. The Hills watched other parents and families of seriously ill children do the same thing. Many of the families had to travel long distances for their children to receive medical treatment and couldn't afford hotel rooms.
The Hills knew there had to be a solution. Fred rallied the support of his teammates to raise funds. Through Jim Murray, the Eagles' general manager, the team offered its support to Dr. Audrey Evans, head of the pediatric oncology unit at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Evans had long dreamed of a "home away from home" for families of children being treated at her hospital.
Murray called Don Tuckerman, a friend from the local McDonald's advertising agency. "What's your next promotion?" he asked. "St Patrick's Day," Tuckerman said. "Shamrock Shakes."
The donations raised by this promotion raised enough money to purchase an old home which would become the Ronald McDonald House. During the last few weeks, participating McDonald's restaurants across the country have been donating a portion of each sale of Shamrock Shakes to a local Ronald McDonald House.
Sadly, the 3-year old who battled cancer and helped inspire the creation of a "home away from home" died from brain cancer in 2011 at the age of 44. Today over 300 Ronald McDonald Houses exist because of McDonald's, the Philadelphia Eagles, a loving family, and a 3-year old girl with cancer.
Picture source: McDonald's