Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine hosted a glamorous Hearts and Hands Gala at Thompson’s Point on Oct. 26, raising nearly $73,000 to provide places to stay for families of children receiving medical treatment in Maine.

Gala guests included Jacob and Leah Sears of Vassalboro and their 10-month-old son, Asher Sears, who was born 10 weeks premature. While the baby was in the neonatal intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center for more than two months, his parents stayed nearby at the Ronald McDonald House. They were one of 652 families served in 2017 by Ronald McDonald Houses in Portland and Bangor.

“Ronald McDonald House was truly the unsung hero of our NICU journey, helping to keep us together,” said Leah Sears. “It felt natural to call Ronald McDonald House home.”

About 225 people attended the red-carpet gala at Brick South, beginning with a cocktail party and auction and ending with a three-course dinner and dancing.

“When a community comes together it makes a tremendous impact for the children and families served by Ronald McDonald House,” said Executive Director Robin Chibroski. “It costs us about $75 a night per family, and we ask the families for $10 a night if they can afford it. But 74 percent of our families cannot afford to make a donation.”

“I think it’s really important that families who have someone sick have somewhere to stay,” said Colby Marvin, who is a house volunteer in three-hour shifts. “It’s not much, but it does make a difference.”

The 160 community organizations and companies supporting the gala included Maine Marathon, which raised $20,000 for Ronald McDonald House in 2018, and Heart of Gold Award recipient Gen Re, which participates in the Adopt a Room program and sends volunteers to Ronald McDonald House fundraisers.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

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