Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney (RMHC Sydney) is calling on allAustralians – including our beloved 29 million pets[i] – to make a positivedifference for seriously ill children and their families by registering for afun and unique new campaign called Paws For Sick Kids.

Furry, feathery, scaly and slimy, pets of all varieties can take to thespotlight by partaking in campaign challenges of varying skill levels.

Challenges include easy-level selfies and look-a-like with humans challenges;to the medium-level temptation challenge where pets are tested not to touchtheir favourite food or toy when their human leaves the room; and hard-levelchallenges including the Mario Cart challenge featuring a pathway of treatsfor the animal to eat in a particular pattern.

Alternatively, participants can choose their own daily challenges to completeduring the course of one week from 2-8 August 2020. Registrations open via thePaws For Sick Kids website on 22 June 2020.

Those who register are encouraged to share snaps and videos of their pets’attempts at the challenges (with bloopers welcome!) using #PawsForSickKidson social media.

The campaign also features competitions judged by RMHCS’ resident dog, Wilbur;with prizes to be won including stays at Ovolo Hotel Group’s award-winningluxury boutique hotels in Sydney where dogs are welcome. Wilbur’s TikTokaccount @WilburTheHouseDog features examples of his attempts at the campaignchallenges.

While a monetary donation to RMHC Sydney isn’t required to take part in thecampaign – with the digital content itself to surely help bring pricelesssmiles to the faces of sick kids who stay at Ronald McDonald House Randwick –participants can recruit sponsors for each challenge to help raise much-neededfunds for RMHC Sydney.

It costs $160 to accommodate one family at Ronald McDonald House Randwick forone night.

A ‘home away from home’ for families required to travel to Sydney for criticalmedical treatment at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald HouseRandwick typically accommodates almost 750 families annually.

The Ronald McDonald House at Randwick was required to temporarily close duringMarch 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 global health pandemic. While thetemporary closure was a necessity, it inevitably impacted on the families whorely on RMHC Sydney while their sick children receive treatment at the SydneyChildren’s Hospital.

“We’re very pleased that we’re now able to start accommodating families at theRandwick House again. While we’re still unable to operate to full capacity dueto Covid-19 restrictions, we’re well on the way back to a fully-operationalHouse,” explains Simone Daher, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Sydney.

“Like many charitable organisations, we’ve unfortunately – but notsurprisingly – seen a significant drop in public donations. This is trulychallenging because we absolutely rely on public support. Without your help wesimply could not offer the assistance that we do to our families.

“As an independent charity, we are lucky that McDonald’s and its localfranchisees provide ongoing support, but as the need for our House andcorresponding programs continues to grow in demand, so too does our need toraise money from corporate organisations, community groups, individuals andour friendly neighbours. With more financial assistance, we can continue to domore for families that ask for very little.

“Paws for Sick Kids is by design a cheerful campaign. We want it to brightenthe moods of the families we support, as well as positively engage the generalcommunity after what has been such a difficult 2020 to-date for us all. Petsprovide a really unique form of comfort and we want to celebrate that as wellas fundraise for our important programs and services,” adds Ms Daher.

In addition to the Ronald McDonald House at Randwick which is importantlysituated within a five-minute walk to the Sydney Children’s Hospital wards,RMHC Sydney operates three Family Rooms embedded with Sydney Children’sHospital, Royal North Shore Hospital and Wollongong Hospital. These spacesprovide parents, carers and siblings with respite during long days spent atthe bedside of a seriously ill child.

Furthermore, RMHC Sydney provides educational assistance for children withserious illness, helping them catch-up on missed learning following lengthyabsences from school through its Learning Program which offers comprehensiveassessment, therapy and tuition with qualified professionals. The LearningProgram also caters for the siblings of seriously sick children in hospital.

The Randwick House’s Chief Cheer Officer, Wilbur the house dog, is a therapydog in training and he provides a very welcome distraction to those who stayat the House.

“For so many families, they aren’t just away from loved ones and friends,they’re away from their pets and so Wilbur offers very special comfort andfamiliarity and under extraordinary circumstances,” says Simone Daher.

MEET ABBY: Five-year-old Abby has been visiting the Ronald McDonald Houseat Randwick during the past three years whilst receiving treatment at theSydney Children’s Hospital.

For Abby, a trip in the car to Sydney meant one thing – a trip to thehospital. This made for a not-so-happy car ride, and for Abby and her family,this was a trip that they had to make quite often. Then Wilbur arrived! Abbycouldn’t wait to meet Wilbur and even gave him his first toy – a littlesqueaky piggy. It was love at first sight.

Whilst Abby still needs to stay at the Ronald McDonald House at Randwickfrequently, she does so with excitement, knowing that she will see Wilbur. Youwill hear her standing at the glass sliding doors announcing “Where’s Wilbur?I’ve come to see Wilbur?”

Need we say more? You and your pets can also bring smiles to the faces ofseriously ill children like Abby by registering now atwww.pawsforsickkids.com.au

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