On her bike for Ronald McDonald House
Catherine (right) with her support crew Carol Young and Jackie McKinlay Photo supplied

She may be a retired nurse, but Cromwell resident Catherine Cowie, when challenged to raise money for Starship Hospital’s Ronald MacDonald House, was on her bike quicker than you could say ‘Call the Midwife!’.

In 2018, Catherine’s little great niece, Julia Haugh, spent about 9 months at Starship. During that time, Catherine made regular visits to Ronald McDonald to care for Julie and support her parents and family.

“I was always in absolute awe of the courage of the families I met at Ronald McDonald House and the incredible support they received from the staff”, Catherine says. “Many years ago my son suffered and died from cancer.  There was no such support service for us at the time.”

Ronald McDonald House is a New Zealand charity which provides accommodation and support services to families who must travel away from home to receive specialist medical treatment.  It can only continue thanks to the generosity of those who choose to fundraise

Catherine was very happy to be part of a fundraising project to make a difference for the children and families in need.

Catherine says that Julia has amazing parents.  Her mother, Kate, whom Catherine describes as ‘a real mover and shaker’ challenged Catherine to join her in a pledge to cycle 210ks each, during the month of March.  The 210ks is significant, as it is the average distance for any child in New Zealand to get to a Starship Hospital in Auckland for treatment.

So Catherine got on her bike around Central Otago – along the lovely Cromwell trails and as far afield as Chatto Creek.  She set goals along the way to ensure the challenge was met.  She is grateful to the friends who regularly biked with her.

“I had amazing support from family, friends, neighbours and some ‘anonymous donations’.  I am enormously grateful to everyone,” says Catherine, adding, “The marketing, support and encouragement  from the team at Ronald McDonald was simply fantastic.  It was a privilege to do it in conjunction with my niece Kate Haugh, and together we raised a $9000. – among the highest amount raised for this House to House national event – all praise to the generosity of our sponsors.”

As well as attracting great support from donors, the exercise made people aware of the wonderful service that Ronald McDonald provides for children in need.

If you would like to challenge yourself and/or your friends to create a campaign page, the Ronald Mc Donald team will guide you through the process.  They say, “Whether you run a marathon, host a bake sale, organise a school mufti day or ask for donations on your birthday – there are lots of creative ways you can help support keeping families together while their child is in hospital away from home. www.rmhc.org.nz