On Saturday, August 4, thousands of runners and skaters will set off from the starting line of the RBC Race for the Kids-Twin Cities. As they travel along the Mississippi Riverfront in St. Paul, each and every one of the participants will be racing for somebody other than themselves. They’ll be racing for children in need – kids like Nolan Mearon Beauvais.
Nolan was born four months early in 2013, when his mom, Nicole Beauvais, was only 23 weeks pregnant. He weighed only a pound and a half and measured just over 12 inches long. His eyes were fused shut, and he needed a tube in his mouth in order to breathe.
Originally from Chicago, Beauvais and her husband, Donte Mearon, were in Minnesota for Christmas when Beauvais went into labor. After Nolan was born, they stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses in and near the Minneapolis hospital where he received care. Ronald McDonald Houses serve as a home-away-from-home for families with hospitalized children, providing home-cooked meals, private bedrooms, and the support to keep a family together when it matters most.
For Mearon and Beauvais, the Ronald McDonald House offered them comfort and stability during a difficult time.
“Being 30 minutes or 60 minutes away, that’s too far when you’ve got a child who’s critically ill,” Beauvais says. “What the Ronald McDonald House allows and gives to families is the ability not to worry about things you don’t have to worry about when you have a sick kid.”
That important work done by Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest (RMHC) attracted the support of RBC Wealth Management. When the firm sponsored a race called the Minnesota Half Marathon in 2014, it used the opportunity to enhance its relationship with RMHC that was already built on employee volunteerism and financial support. RBC named RMHC the charitable partner of the race, with a portion of all race proceeds going to the organization, in addition to an individual and team fundraising element.
Through that support, RBC Race for the Kids-Twin Cities is helping ensure that kids like Mearon Beauvais and their families receive the support they need.
The St. Paul race on August 4 is just one of 15 races around the world sponsored by RBC that support children’s causes. The first RBC Race for the Kids took place in New York City in 2009, and quickly expanded to become a global fundraising initiative. In the U.S., races are also set this year for New York on September 22 and Chicago on October 14. Internationally, races will also take place in Calgary, Luxembourg, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Toronto and more.
To date, the race series has raised more than $28 million for children’s charities, thanks to 161,000 global participants. And the series isn’t slowing down anytime soon, with more races added every year.
“Race for the Kids is a tremendous example of our community focus and strong culture,” said Tom Sagissor, president of RBC Wealth Management-U.S. “I’m proud of the support that employees show for Race for the Kids and for charities like Ronald McDonald House every year.”
Mearon and Beauvais participated in the first RBC Race for the Kids-Twin Cities in August 2014, just a few months after Nolan was discharged from a five-month hospital stay. They saw the race as a way to give back to RMHC, and to celebrate how far their son and their family had come.
“We ran the race to remember that when the going gets tough (like at mile 12!), the really tough can push through, just like our son did,” Beauvais said at the time.
They ran again in 2015, and also in 2016, when the race raised more than $100,000 for RMHC. That was enough to pay for 450 nights of lodging for families in need, according to Jill Evenocheck, president and CEO of RMHC.
Caption: Nicole Beauvais and Donte Mearon completed the RBC Race for the Kids-Twin Cities.
“People who come to a Ronald McDonald House never expect to be here,” Evenocheck says. “Childhood illness has no demographic – it doesn’t matter how much education you have, what job you have. It just hits people and it hits them right out of the blue.”
This year, the event has added a new walk option for families that have stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses in the past, which will bring a whole new element to race day.
“The people who stay with us, they consider this a home,” Evenocheck says. “The walk, as part of the race, gives people the opportunity to bring friends and family, and see people they haven’t seen for a long time. It’s a great way for everyone to come together.”
“We love the atmosphere before, during and after the race,” she adds. “It’s a day of celebration.”
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