Running to Help Ronald McDonald House Charities

By Jenna Schifferle

Entrance into the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is usually contingent upon a lottery. As part of its long-standing commitment to the community, the marathon also grants runners automatic entrance into the race if they commit to raising a set amount of money for one of its approved charities.

In my case, this option was a no-brainer.

If you’re going to set a goal for yourself, you might as well make that goal benefit others, right? Ronald McDonald House Charities is an organization that I hold dear to my heart. A few years ago, I started volunteering at the local chapter on West Ferry Street in Buffalo after seeing a bulletin at Fisher-Price. At the time, the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital was being constructed, and Ronald McDonald House Charities planned to open a lounge for families who needed a respite and space to breathe. Fisher-Price donated a special cart for the lounge that could be used to bring coffee and other refreshments directly to the rooms in the hospital. Enthusiastically dubbed the “Happy Wheels Cart,” this initiative seemed too good to turn down. I signed up to help out and have been volunteering there ever since.

The lounge itself is small yet cozy and always filled with complimentary food. The fireplace adds ambiance, and volunteers greet everyone with a smile and open heart. There are toys for kids to keep, with the hope it brings them play and happiness, even if only for a moment. Above all, though, I strongly believe the interactions that happen in the lounge are what make me so passionate about this charity. We all know a family that’s going through difficult times. This lounge brings together countless families whose struggles are unparalleled. It is a place where stories are shared, but it’s also a place where words aren’t always needed. Sometimes, a cup of coffee and company remind people that they’re not alone.

When I decided to run the Chicago Marathon, I committed to playing a larger role in this organization’s mission. I’ve surpassed my goal of raising $1,250, and I am forever grateful to the people who have sponsored me and helped fund the amazing work done by Ronald McDonald House Charities. I’m also glad that I decided to run for this particular cause, especially following my injury.

While training for a marathon, it’s easy to experience a setback like mine and postpone your admission until the following year. Sometimes, it’s even necessary. I am now several weeks behind on training, and I’ve been going to physical therapy to strengthen the hip weakness that caused my leg injury in the first place. I haven’t been able to run, and I’ve argued with myself countless times about whether or not I should actually postpone until 2020. In the end, I’ve decided to run the race this year and accept that it’s going to be even more difficult and much, much slower than originally anticipated. I’m honored to be running for Ronald McDonald House Charities, and for that reason, I am going to see this thing through until the bittersweet end.

If you’re interested in learning more about the work done by Ronald McDonald House Charities, check out their website at or read more on my page at .

“Writer on the Run” is a monthly column written by Jenna Schifferle of Cheektowaga. She chronicles her experience training for the Chicago Marathon in October.