Spectators enjoy fun evening, raise money for Ronald McDonald house

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Gail Young watched a relative pitch for the All-Star baseball team who played against the Old Timers at Thomas Memorial Baseball Stadium in Niles Saturday evening.
The baseball event raised funds for the Ronald McDonald Family Room at South Bend, Ind.'s, Memorial Hospital.
But spectators didn't only get to see good baseball Saturday.
They were also entertained by official McDonald's mascots Birdie and Hamburglar, as well as the baseball players themselves, who performed surprise stunts throughout the game.
Such as when Michiana Christian Embassy pastor Jeff Whittaker, who played for the Old Timers, picked up a bucket of water and ran after a referee because he disagreed with a decision the referee made.
Whittaker eventually threw the bucket of water at the referee to roaring cheers from the crowd.
Helen Mackling and her husband, Kirk, unlike Young, however, didn't come to the baseball game because they had a relative playing.
They simply like to watch baseball.
Knowing all proceeds from the game went to Memorial Hospital's Ronald McDonald Family room, the two didn't mind purchasing a few tickets in the event's 50-50 lottery.
Helen said she once visited the Ronald McDonald House in Detroit and was impressed with the facilites available for families in need of a place to stay while a loved one is in hospital.
And, she encourages people to raise money for Ronald McDonald houses and family rooms.
Lisa Batting is the director of Ronald McDonald's Family Room at Memorial Hospital.
She sat on the stands and watched the baseball game unfold, knowing the money raised through Saturday's event benefits the people she works to take care of.
Batting said the facility, which can best be described as a "home away from home," serves 35 families a day and has three bedrooms where parents and guardians of ill children can spend the night.
The family room contains a dining room, a fully stocked kitchen, a living room with internet access and other amenities you would found in a normal home, she said.
Which is nice for people who for a moment have their lives turned upside down because a child is facing serious illness or is in need of treatment caused by an accident.
The roughly 1,700 square feet family room is located within the hospital and is litterally just a step away from the pediatrics unit.
But although the two are so close, doctors and patients are not allowed into the family room.
Ann Maxwell is McDonald's store activities representative for McDonald's in Niles.
One of the people behind the initiative to raise money for the Ronald McDonald family room at Memorial Hospital, Maxwell was hoping the baseball game would raise at least a $1000 for the family room.
No matter what the outcome of the fundraiser, however, Maxwell was pleased to see everyone having a good time.

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