June 15, 2003
Kids Triathlon to benefit state's only Ronald McDonald House
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Evonda Henley had noticed collection boxes for the Ronald McDonald House at various McDonalds restaurants, but she never thought much about them, until a few weeks ago.
Her 13-year-old daughter Camelia, or “Millie” as her family calls her, was injured in a car accident in April and spent weeks in a Jackson hospital. During that time, Evonda Henley and her husband Henry faced either frequent trips from their home in Eupora, 118 miles from Jackson, or the cost of staying in a local hotel for several weeks.
“They asked if we wanted to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, but I said no. I didn’t really understand what it was. But these hospital chairs get pretty uncomfortable, so we decided to take a look,” Evonda said.
“It was wonderful,” she said of their six week stay at Ronald McDonald House. “The atmosphere was great. It was clean, well organized and the staff is very friendly.”
Millie is continuing her recovery at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, one of the sponsors of the Ronald McDonald House Kids Triathlon. The June 28 event will benefit the non-profit organization that provides lodging for families of children in metro-area hospitals, including Methodist Rehabilitation Center.
Mississippi’s Ronald McDonald House opened May 1, 1989 and has since provided lodging for over 3,500 families. There are 214 Ronald McDonald houses worldwide.
The triathlon begins at 8 a.m. at the Courthouse Racquet Club in Flowood. There are two categories; 7 to 10-year-olds will swim 100 yards, bike 3.1 miles and run .6 miles and 11-to-14 year olds will swim 200 yards, bike 6.2 miles and run 1.2 miles. This year there is also a special division for disabled kids.
Entries are $20 per child by June 20 or $30 per child during packet pickup on June 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Courthouse Racquet Club. Packets can also be picked up on race day from 6:30 to 7 a.m., but there will be no race day registration.
This is the third year for the triathlon, said Paige Christopher, events coordinator for Ronald McDonald House. Christopher said they decided on a kids triathlon because it offered something unique to this area and to the state. She said it’s a great event for the House, but it has other benefits as well.
“It’s amazing. It helps the kids build character and they just have a great time. Seeing them have a good time is the best part for me,” Christopher said. “The triathlon has grown every year, and we expect 125 to 150 participants this year.”
Jill Galloway, of Madison, will be one of the kids having a good time. The 11-year-old is competing in the division for disabled kids. She is ready to compete and doesn’t anticipate any problems finishing the race. “I just walked a half mile,” she said proudly. But for Galloway, the bike ride will likely be her favorite part. Terri Galloway, her mother, said she’s happy to see the triathlon include a category for disabled children and has looked for opportunities for her daughter since she suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident four years ago.
“This is great for her. It makes her feel included,” Terri Galloway said.
Since the accident, the Galloways have spent a lot of time at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, but they are fortunate because it is within driving distance of their home, Terri Galloway said. During Jill’s initial hospitalization, they met families who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, and she knows how helpful it was to them. “It’s a great cause to support,” she said.
The Independence, Methodist Rehab’s 69,000 gallon hot air competition balloon, will appear at the triathlon and Sammy Safety, the Jackson hospital’s certified safety super hero, will present several injury prevention programs during the event.
Other sponsors for the race are, The Courthouse Racquet Club, ERGON, River Oaks Hospital, BankPlus, The Bike Rack, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, McDonald’s, Millsaps “M” Club, Phelps Dunbar, LLP and Environment Masters.
For more information on the triathlon, go to rmhms.com or call 601-981-5683.
Millie Henley, a patient at Methodist Rehabilitation Center, paints a window on the hospital's fifth floor as part of her therapy. Henley is at the Jackson hospital recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
Jenn Sivak, an occupational therapist, helps patient Millie Henley paint a window as part of her therapy. Henley is recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
Since it opened on May 1, 1989, the Ronald McDonald House in Jackson has provided lodging for over 3,500 families of sick and injured children.