Rocklin families' bright idea benefits Ronald McDonald House

By: Danielle Huddlestun, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Two Rocklin families, $1,000 and 200 signs have successfully connected the community to the Ronald McDonald House. Since Dec. 1, Leslie VandenAkker and Kari Hamilton have sold more than 200 signs for $10 each. Proceeds are going to benefit families currently residing in the Ronald McDonald House. “’Light up the city’ is a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House. It was inspired by a song,” said Kari Hamilton, co-founder of this project. After both families experienced cancer (one celebrating 10 years of their mother being cancer free and the other marking one year with their son, they wanted to find a way to give back. The two women and their families partnered for this project in an effort to brighten children’s lives, especially those facing cancer, during the holiday season. After both families experienced cancer (one celebrating ten years of their mother being cancer free and the other marking their son’s one-year anniversary of remission), they decided to find a way to give back. “We wanted to do something different, because the holidays are different when someone in your family is sick. We loved our community and knew we could get support,” said co-founder Leslie VandenAkker. The purpose of their project is to encourage the community to decorate the exterior of their homes and donate $10 for the “Light Up the City for the Kids” sign. Both families have been to Ruhkala Elementary School and to the Pebble Creek Park and Ride selling signs. They plan one last outing from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday at the Park and Ride. According to the two women, their original goal was to sell 100 signs. After they realized how successful their efforts were, the two decided to increase their goal to 200 and are now close to selling 300. “We started with 100 and they went quickly. We even sold signs before we received them in the mail,” VandenAkker said. The women are excited to turn over the funds donated to Sacramento’s Ronald McDonald House. “The Ronald McDonald House is a place for families whose children are in the hospital. They offer a reduced rate to get the families’ needs met,” Hamilton said. Hamilton’s sister has a similar program underway in Fresno and the women are hoping their project will spread throughout the state. “We are very happy with the turn out and being able to put together something for the families at the house,” VandenAkker said.