SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -Hundreds of people laced up their running shoes on Saturday morning to help critically ill children and their families.
The annual Red Shoes Run raises money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire.
Krista and Chad Kennedy’s twins were just 27 weeks and 6 days old when they were born. They stayed the Ronald McDonald House in Savannah for 136 days while Cooper and Piper were in the NICU.
“It was devastating just moving from the hospital leaving them to come over here, so if we had to go back to Glennville every day, I don’t even know how we would have done it," Krista said. “We wouldn’t have been able to see Cooper and Piper every day.”
Saturday’s Red Shoes Run ensures families like the Kennedys can be close to their critically ill children free of charge.
“Every illness, every injury, so we’re serving everybody,” said Executive Director Bill Sorochak.
Sorochak says the $15,000 - $20,000 raised Saturday will help keep the non-profit running.
“We’re an organization that doesn’t get to shut its doors ever," Sorochak said. "We can’t take a break. It’s 24/7 365. Your child’s sick on a Tuesday just as easily as your child’s sick on Christmas Day, so not having that opportunity, events like this help us to provide a home away from home for these families, hot meal every night, only 176 steps from their child’s bed.”
Last year alone, about 300 families stayed here.
"We provided over 4,762 family night stays last year, which really translates into 300 families of the most critical cases, " Sorochak said. “An additional 3,400 families using our families rooms in two different hospital systems, and our care mobile providing dental services last year. 2,700 kids saw a dentist for the first time.”
Krista Kennedy said she still cries almost every time she talks about the support the Ronald McDonald House gives to families like hers.
“If Ronald McDonald House wasn’t here, there would be a lot of parents that weren’t able to see or be with their babies," she said. “They become part of your family.”
100 percent of the money raised Saturday stays locally with the organization to help those in the Coastal Empire.
“You can put your head on the pillow every night and know that you’re doing a really good thing,” Sorochak said.