JOPLIN, MO – A local celebrity has returned to his post in Joplin, just in time for once facility’s 23rd anniversary.
If you spend every day for over 2 decades outside in the elements, you might need a facelift and some body work too.
But after some time away, at Steve’s Frame and Body Shop, Ronald McDonald is right back where he belongs, outside the house that love built with that perpetual smile.
“Sprucing him up a little bit so he could back for another 23 years because we’re celebrating our 23rd birthday today, and we got him back just in time to celebrate that.” Says Shirley Hylton, Ronald McDonald House Associate Director.
What a lot of people don’t realize is who came up with the original idea to build this structure.
It cane from hall of famer, and Commerce, Oklahoma-native Mickey Mantle who approached a man by the name of Bob Jennings with the idea back in 1964.
At the time, Jennings owned all of the Joplin area McDonalds restaurants.
But it wasn’t until the construction of the NICU at Freeman Health System that the idea became reality.
“And Mr. Jennings went back to Ronald McDonald House International Team and once again asked, and those figures once combined with our St. John’s Mercy family and our Freeman family for zero to eighteen year old’s did meet the criteria.” Says Annette Thurston, Exec. Dir., Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States.
The first time Jennings proposed the idea, the international group said there weren’t enough pediatric patients being treated in Joplin to justify the construction of a house.
Sadly, Jennings passed away a short time after ground was broken on the project in 1997.
“We have served over 35 hundred unduplicated families from 38 states and two foreign countries.” Says Thurston.
One other bit of Ronald McDonald trivia, former NBC weatherman Williard Scott played the role of the original clown character back in 1963.