The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Eastern Kentucky, a program of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Bluegrass, was successfully “elected” the winner over 38 other Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® programs world-wide in an online voting initiative hosted by Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC®) and will receive a $5,000 grant to support health education services for the program.
Over 12,000 votes were cast on www.rmhc.org to show support for the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Hazard, KY. Each click of the mouse represented one person willing to take a moment out of their day to show their support for children in Eastern Kentucky who benefit from the free dental services provided on board the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.
Since 2005, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program (a partnership between the University of Kentucky and RMHC of the Bluegrass) has offered Eastern Kentucky’s children affordable, professional dental services and education on this state-of-the-art mobile clinic. Centered in Hazard, KY, (Perry County) the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile assists vulnerable and at-risk children in their own neighborhoods and schools.
Over 50 percent of Eastern Kentucky’s children have the second-highest rate of untreated tooth decay in the nation, and because 20 percent of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile patients are uninsured and 80 percent are only covered by Medicaid/KCHIP, the mobile dental clinic is the only treatment option for many. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile has provided over 10,000 dental visits since 2005. Given that more than 51 million hours of schooling are lost annually due to the lack of dental care among children in the U.S., the services provided to Eastern Kentucky’s children help improve their lives on multiple fronts.
On April 19, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass board of directors met to vote to raise funds to match the $5,000 grant if declared the winner. This match not only increases the amount the Kentucky Ronald McDonald Care Mobile will receive, it doubles the impact on the program. “Each year thousands of children in Eastern Kentucky have brighter smiles and a better future thanks to our outstanding Ronald McDonald Care Mobile team,” said RMHC of the Bluegrass Board President Brant Welch, “We wanted to show our appreciation for the strong support behind this important project and are confident that our community will step forward to help us raise the funds to match this grant.”
“I have to admit, I have been amazed by the response we received to this contest. I never realized how many people we could reach through social networking and e-mail. This has been an amazing opportunity for us to educate the public about the good work being done on board our Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program and to encourage our community to show their support for the children this program benefits,” said Sarah Warner, RMHC of the Bluegrass Executive Director.
RMHC of the Bluegrass extends their sincere gratitude to the community for their support and efforts in promoting the competition through online social networking sites, as well as e-mails. It is estimated that over 75,000 people received messages via Facebook and Twitter and over 40,000 e-mails were sent to encourage voting for the Eastern Kentucky Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program.