A perfectly sunny day, not a cloud in the blue sky above. There’s a reason they call her “Mother Nature”. She’s a mom after all, and any mother would jump at the chance to improve the life of even one child. So for the third year in a row she created perfect conditions for the event to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore and what is quickly becoming a signature event in Charm City, The Red Shoe Shuffle.
This year it was Shuffle for Smiles and there were plenty on display from the 2,500 people in attendance, many of them families with young children, all there for one reason, to raise money for the House that Love Built. If there were a few thousand walking or running, it seemed as if there were just as many volunteers, all ready to cheer you on as you made your way around a few big city landmarks.
The walk goes through the heart of one birds nest, the place the Orioles call home, Oriole Park @ Camden Yards and right around another, M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens roost every fall and winter. Those structures are at the heart of a revitalized downtown Baltimore these past twenty years and a perfect place for hearts filled with giving to show their true colors.
Just in case you didn’t know, The Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families, and helps to fund programs in the local area that directly improve the well-being of children. It’s all about the children and making their journey as comfortable as possible by giving them the opportunity to have their families by their side while they undergo challenging treatments and extended care. It’s a dedicated staff at the House and literally thousands of volunteers each year who donate their time, attention and dollars to help the families who need to stay at the House to be closer to their children in need.
All along the walk yesterday there were children and their parents enjoying the time together, all knowing they were doing this for a good reason, to help others just like them, but for whom life might have handed some more serious challenges. There is little that hurts the heart more than knowing there are children in need of your help. Yesterday, you couldn’t help but feel the energy and love all along the walk that directly makes a difference in the lives of those children and their families.
The Red Shoe Shuffle is the brainchild of the Red Shoe Crew, a group of young professionals formed a few years ago who wanted to find a way to give back to the Ronald McDonald charity and came up with an idea to create a 5-K walk to raise money for the House. This year the event brought in nearly $300,000 – those dollars going directly to the Ronald McDonald Charities of Baltimore. There is always a need, the community of Maryland, including generous individual and corporate donors, provides 100% of the nearly $2 millon annual operating budget for the House. So dollars are always welcome, volunteers are as well.
The volunteers. Every where you looked yesterday there was someone holding a sign to cheer you, thank you, motivate you to keep walking and complete your “shuffle”. They say there is no such thing as a “free lunch”, but every so often along the way yesterday, if you were so inclined you could grab a free hug…good food for the soul.
With full disclosure I serve on the Board of Directors for the House and am proud to do so. My entire family and many members of the family from my New York Life Baltimore Office were proud to shuffle through town on this beautiful Sunday.
This is a non-profit with some serious momentum, a higher purpose, and plans now in the works to build a new bigger, better Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. Unfortunately too many families are turned away from the House every year, simply based on the capacity the House can hold. A capital campaign to build a bigger, better Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore is just now beginning to ramp-up and its completion will literally change the lives of thousands of children and their families, because the need for this home-away-from-home to help healing in body and heart will never end. As long as there are children who are sick, or in need, the Ronald McDonald Charities of Baltimore plans to be there.
We can’t affect the outcome for any child dealing with a serious illness or physical challenge, but what we can do is bring joy to the journey. The Red Shoe Shuffle brings people, hearts and healing together all in one place to create an energy and synergy this photo describes so well:
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Financial Services
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