CHARLOTTE – NASCAR legend Ray Evernham wants the Queen City and the surrounding areas to get behind the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) of Charlotte.Not only is he asking for the public’s support, but wants to lead by example. Evernham announced this afternoon he was making a $250,000 donation to the RMH of Charlotte. This announcement was made during a press conference held at the future site of the House (the 1600 block of East Morehead Street). Not only did Evernham make a donation, but he also announced he would be joining the charity’s Executive Board. The RMH is more than a charity to Evernham; it supported his family 18 years ago when his son, Ray J., was diagnosed with leukemia. “When I was getting started in NASCAR, we were in the middle of moving to Charlotte from New Jersey when we learned that Ray J. had leukemia,” Evernham said. “He needed treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. While Ray J. underwent his outpatient treatments, the RMH put a lot of our concerns at ease and allowed us to focus all our efforts on Ray J.” During a two-year period, Ray made 10 trips to New York City so Ray J. could receive his treatments. Every time they arrived at the RMH, they were always met “with open arms.” “We were treated like family,” Evernham said. “That’s why I urge everyone to get behind this charity. The thought of having a sick child is one of the most stressful feelings in the world; however, that stress is reduced when you know you have a place to stay and ‘friends’ who will take care of you.” During the press conference, Evernham shared Ray J.’s story with the crowd, who is now 18 years old, graduated from high school last May and is cancer free. Mona Johnson-Gibson, Executive Director of the RMH of Charlotte, thanked Evernham for his donation and dedication to the charity. “Ray is an inspiration to us all,” Johnson-Gibson said. “We welcome him to our board and look forward to providing the same type of support and comfort here in Charlotte that the Evernhams received in New York City.” Construction of the House is scheduled to be completed in late 2010 on the one-acre parcel of land, donated by Carolinas Medical Center. The lot currently contains two structures that will be removed, making way for the state-of-the-art facility. An official groundbreaking will be announced soon and is expected to take place after the first of the year. About Ray Evernham
During his more than 30 years in racing, Evernham has visited victory lane as a driver, crew chief and car owner. After winning numerous Modified titles and serving a successful stint with the International Race of Champions, Evernham teamed with Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports to create one of the most successful organizations in NASCAR history. In seven years, they claimed three NASCAR Cup championships and 47 victories. Evernham’s hard work, dedication and commitment resulted in Dodge officials knocking on his door in 1999 to oversee Dodge’s return to NASCAR Cup racing in 2001. It was a venture that launched his eight-year career as a NASCAR team owner. Today, Evernham is exploring other ways of expanding his motorsports legacy, including broadcasting races for ESPN, managing East Lincoln Speedway, designing a vehicle to go after the land-speed record for a piston-driven car, helping develop young drivers and overseeing a museum and entertainment facility in Mooresville, N.C. About the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte
Currently, Charlotte is the only major U.S. city that does not have a RMH. The RMH of Charlotte is scheduled to open in late 2010 and will serve the families of children being treated at Levine Children’s Hospital and Hemby Children’s Hospital. Located on the 1600 block of East Morehead Street on land donated by Carolinas Medical Center, the House will feature approximately 35,000 square feet of living space complete with 28 bedrooms (one family per bedroom/suite), providing more than 10,000 nights for the families. It is also scheduled to have a community kitchen, great room, learning center, playground and sitting porch. Construction will begin in early 2010. The RMH of Charlotte is an independent 501 (c) (3) charity managed by a local board of directors which will oversee construction and operation of the home. The cost of building and operating the RMH of Charlotte will come primarily from individual and corporate donations. The RMH of Charlotte will be funded, constructed and operated by the Charlotte community. The mission of the RMH of Charlotte is to provide the families of children being treated in area medical facilities with a safe, affordable and caring “home away from home.” For more information on RMH of Charlotte, visit www.rmhofcharlotte.org.