21 March 2023

Ronald McDonald House, Lexus of Canberra team up again for Wonderland Gala Ball

| Morgan Kenyon
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music show

Crowds at the 2022 Wizard of Oz Gala Ball enjoyed surprise performances. Photo: Ronald McDonald House Canberra.

The annual Ronald McDonald House Canberra (RMHC) and Lexus of Canberra car raffle and Gala Ball will run again this year, on 25 March.

To be held at the National Convention Centre, the ball attracts more than 1000 patrons each year in support of families with seriously ill or injured children and premature infants.

The winner of this year’s car raffle will be announced on the evening, along with the winners of several other raffle, silent auction, and live auction prizes.

The event promises to be a memorable spectacle, but it’s about more than getting dressed up and enjoying a glass of wine. All proceeds from raffle sales go towards free housing for the families of sick kids during and in between hospital stays.

READ MORE ‘The House’ provides precious lifeline for 240 families each year

Executive officer Lee Maiden joined RMHC in 2022, the gala ball’s biggest year on record.

“Our ball made $660,000 last year, which was just phenomenal. This year, there will be excitement and awe aplenty as guests enter Wonderland,” she says.

“The entertainment agenda is kept secret, which always makes for a fabulous surprise. To finish the night off strongly, we will draw the winner of the Lexus of Canberra car raffle. It’s a great opportunity, having so many generous, passionate and hard-working people all under one roof in support of RMHC’s efforts.”

The charity provides 10 comfortable rooms for families of seriously ill or injured children at its Canberra House – free of charge.

Family sitting with big teddy bear

Josh, Jaxson and Mikaela at Canberra House during their most recent stay. Photo: Aditi Verma.

In addition to the Canberra House, RMHC volunteers run a family room at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. Family members of kids in hospital can use the space to shower, do laundry, have a cup of tea, or simply rest for a while away from the ward.

The organisation also runs a seaside family retreat in Batemans Bay that offers two outfitted units for up to a week.

“We meet children who spend month after month in and out of hospital, who are terminally ill, and who are going to have health issues for a long time. For these kids and their families, it becomes quite a draining cycle,” Lee says.

“To have this beautiful retreat where they can be out in the ocean air, walk down to the beach and spend time together simply being a family … it’s so, so important. Events like the gala ball keep our services open to them.”

READ ALSO Vinnies CEO Sleepout veteran Mirko Milic driven by homeless staff revelation

Mirko Milic, principal dealer at Lexus of Canberra, has been connected to RMHC for nearly a decade.

“I first got involved as a sponsor, and have been a member of the board for the last four years,” he says. “I believe there is nothing worse in life than seeing your kids are unwell and being unable to do much to help.

“RMHC does an amazing job providing respite for these children and their families through accommodation, food, resources and support. The part we play in delivering these services is important to everyone at Lexus of Canberra.”

for male golfers

Joseph Tapine, Ricky Stuart, Josh Papalii and James Service at the Lexus of Canberra 20th Golf Day. Photo: Lexus of Canberra.

In addition to the ball, RMHC and Lexus of Canberra also run the annual Lexus of Canberra Golf Invitational.

The on-course charity event and post-golf raffle raised more than $7800 for RMHC this year at the Royal Canberra Golf Club in Yarralumla.

“Lexus of Canberra is an incredible sponsor; we couldn’t ask for more,” Lee says.

“When they say they’re going to sponsor an event, they mean business. Without partners like them, we wouldn’t be able to run this service for families going through the most challenging time of their lives.”

Monarch fishing competition cheque presentation

Ronald McDonald Charity House executive officer Lee Maiden receiving the cheque from the fishing tournament, with Monarch Building Solutions team and Lexus of Canberra principal Mirko Milic. Photo: Liv Cameron.

Lexus of Canberra is also a Silver sponsor for the Monarch Building Solutions fishing tournament, which raised $29,000 for RMHC in 2023.

Lee and Mirko are excited to see 25 March break records as the most successful night yet for Canberra’s biggest charity fundraiser.

”It’s going to be a full-on night with loads of entertainment and performances,” Mirko says. “Once you get there, things don’t wind down until close to midnight. It’s great to see sponsors, guests and RMHCA families enjoying themselves together.”

Lee concludes: “RMHC staff will also be there, and everyone will have the chance to hear from some of our families. There are always some tears involved, but overall the gala ball is a night that celebrates solidarity and inspires hope for the future.”

All tables at the 2023 RMHC Lexus of Canberra Gala Ball have now been filled, but tickets in the car raffle are still on offer for $20 and entrants don’t have to be at the ball to win. Tickets can be purchased here.


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