The Ronald McDonald House provides a home-like atmosphere for children undergoing extensive medical treatments.
“It provides a safe atmosphere,” Joshua Ramiez, 11, told Boston's WCVB News, “If someone sees me inside here (with medical devices attached), they’re not going to make fun, and they’re going to support me.”
But residents woke up this month to a disturbing site: The iconic statue of Ronald McDonald outside the house was destroyed.
On three separate visits this month, vandals burned Ronald’s face, cut off his feet with a saw, and decapitated the statue. Kristine Bickford, the house’s executive director, said volunteers had to move the statue’s remains inside because “The kids were traumatized.”
To the kids staying at the Ronald McDonald House, the iconic statue represents more than the fast-food chain that sponsors the home.
“[The children] would sit on Ronnie, take pictures with Ronnie,” Ms. Bickford told WCVB News. “Isn’t it sad?”
“It’s just not funny,” Fannie Hart, who is staying at the house with her son Xavier, told WCVB. “[The Ronald McDonald house] is the last place where you’d want to hurt someone.”
Bickford said it will likely cost about $7,500 to buy a new statue and the house has filed an insurance claim. As a future precautionary measure, Bickford says they will keep the new statue indoors and install security cameras outside.
Sympathizers started a GoFundMe page, a popular online fundraising site. Within one day, 18 people donated almost $3,000 to fund a new statue.
“I’m absolutely touched and so pleased,” Bickford said.
“I plead to anybody who did do this act, that they would come down and maybe look and see what we have here and what it really means to come into this house,” Bickford told WCVB. “And they might have second thoughts about what they did. And maybe they’d even donate some volunteer hours here.”
And Burlington isn’t the only New England town to witness Ronald McDonald vandalism this week.
Mary Ryan and her husband bought an antique Ronald sculpture for $1,200 years ago, but it went missing in August after their daughter hosted a teenage house party at their home in Leverett, Mass. Northampton police found the three-foot statute Wednesday near a trash bin outside a local health club.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.