23 November 2022

Generous community on the ball, raising $235,000 for families through Ronald McDonald Charity House

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Group of people at ball

Business owners Rob Baliva (Thaigga), Luita Aichinger, Tammy Baliva (Tammy’s Thai) and Tony Aichinger at the highly successful Ronald McDonald House Charity Ball. Photo: Jackie Cooper.

Ronald McDonald House raised about a quarter of a million dollars at its recent charity ball.

Ronald McDonald House Wagga executive officer Lisa Simpson said the organisation was thrilled to have had such support to have raised $235,000.

“It is beyond our expectations and will go a long way to make up for the last few years of impacted fundraising due to COVID,” Ms Simpson said.

“It was fantastic to come together and enjoy a great time for a great cause.

“We support over 150 families yearly at the Ronald McDonald House in Wagga and have over 6000 visits to the family room in the paediatric ward at Wagga Base Hospital.”

Ms Simpson said $235,000 was equivalent to 1468 nights of covered accommodation.

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“Families who stay with us often tell us they don’t know where they would stay if not for us,” she said.

“We love being able to provide a home away from home so families can stay close during the treatment and recovery of a sick or injured child.”

Ms Simpson said Ronald McDonald House also supported mothers with high-risk pregnancies, premature babies and their families.

“They can stay as long as they need at no cost, and we provide more than just a room,” she said.

“We provide as many meals as possible, and the playroom certainly gets a workout.”

Ms Simpson said Ronald McDonald House was always fundraising but had missed out on holding the key event over the past three years.

“We are so grateful for the caring and generous supporters and generosity of our hosts, Tony and Luita Aichinger.”

McDonald’s franchisee and charity ball organiser Tony Aichinger said the money raised would allow the houses to keep the doors open for families and children coming to Wagga to be treated.

“It enables us to keep the doors open moving forward and enables us to pay the running costs of the facility to be able to maintain the program for the community of Wagga and Riverina,” he said.

The gala night’s MC Richard Moffatt has been a Ronald McDonald Charity Ball fundraising committee member for the past nine years.

Mr Moffatt said the event had exceeded expectations, and every dollar raised would stay in the region.

“We hit a record … had 215 guests, and we were hoping to raise around the $150,000 mark but blew that out of the water and raised around a quarter of a million dollars,” he said.

Mr Moffatt said as a business owner, he was passionate about all things Wagga.

“I like to be an integral part of these events and help drive and push them.”

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Mr Moffatt knows all too well how families can be affected by trauma with children.

“When my eldest daughter was born, we were flown to Sydney and she was in the children’s intensive care unit,” he said.

“I know personally how valuable these sorts of services are to those families affected by trauma.”

He said another standout of the night was Robert and Tammy from Tammy’s Thai.

“They were our single-biggest donor of the night, and they happened to be another small-business owner,” Mr Moffatt said.

“And I just love to see other small-business operators that are happy to be pro-Wagga and to put in and make sure that we live in a better city.”

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