Ronald McDonald House: It’s a home away from home for families whose seriously ill children are in Children’s Hospital close by.

During these pandemic times, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado and the community stepped up with creative and safe ways to raise donations.

One of the most delicious was Forks with Franco & Friends, an opportunity for 112 participants around the area to go step by step in their own kitchens as chef Franco Pisani of Paravicini’s Italian Bistro taught them how to make lasagna. Those livestreaming had meal kits with the measured ingredients and by evening’s end could pull the finished product out of their ovens, have a glass of wine and enjoy dinner. Families at Ronald McDonald House were treated to the special dinner as well. The event was created by board member Rudy Vasquez and sponsors included Paravicini’s, Fox21, The Gazette and Jodi & Jeremy Jarecke. When lasagna was in the ovens, those watching the chef and host Craig Coffey of Fox21 had an opportunity to see the house and “learn who we are,” said Executive Director Beth Alessio.

It’s where families with ill children can “walk in the door and just relax. It’s a place to sleep, eat and be with other families,” Alessio said. If there were no Ronald McDonald House, she said, many families would have slept in their cars because the expenses of having a child in the hospital long term wouldn’t have allowed for a stay in a hotel. There is no charge for families at the nonprofit Ronald McDonald House.

A gift for the families had also come from Larry H. Miller Toyota Dealerships’ general managers and employees. A new Toyota Sienna minivan is now a shuttle for the families.

Other safely distanced fundraisers have included a Radiothon, Sporting Clays Shoot, Cameron Memorial Golf Tourney, RAZZ Golf Tournament and fundraisers at Dutch Bros. Coffee and Dillard’s. Add to that, said Alessio, countless volunteers who serve families staying at the house by cooking, cleaning and working in the office. (

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