BATHURST business leaders Bronwyn Aberley, Karla McDiarmid and Kylie Thompson have played a major role in smashing the fundraising goal for the inaugural Ronald McDonald House Charities Orange CEO Walk In My Shoes, with more than $26,000 raised.
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As part of the immersive fundraising experience held at RMHC Orange on March 24 and 25, the women had the opportunity to connect with families at the house.
While preparing an evening meal, the women used the experience to hear the families' stories.
Following dinner, the women stayed in rooms sponsored by the Remington Hotel across the road from Orange Hospital, before being woken with instructions to meet in front of the Emergency Department at Orange Hospital as part of the immersive experience.
It was here, in the middle of the night and carrying their 'child's' favourite toy, that the women shared their individual scenarios provided earlier in the day at RMHC Orange.
Those scenarios outlined the circumstances under which their 'child' had been rushed to Orange Hospital via helicopter or road ambulance for specialist or life-saving treatment.
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The following morning, they rose early and prepared breakfast for families at the house.
"For me, this whole experience has been such an eye-opener," Ms Aberley said.
"I cannot imagine what it would really be like to be in the shoes of parents who find themselves in this situation - the last thing they would be thinking of is where they can stay to be close to their child.
"Until I was part of this, I didn't really understand just how important it was to have a place like Ronald McDonald House in Orange - it just makes me feel so grateful for what I have."
Ms McDiarmid said meeting with families had a big impact on her.
"I was really touched by their stories of how they came to stay at the house," she said.
"It was a wonderful experience and I really want to be part of it again next year."
Since RMHC Orange opened its doors, 1016 families from the central and far west have stayed at the house for a total of 8215 nights, with all accommodation and services provided to them free of charge.
CEO Walk In My Shoes for RMHC will remain in Orange to directly support families from the central and far west.
RMHC executive officer Rebecca Walsh said everyone associated with RMHC Orange was thrilled with the result of this inaugural fundraising event.
"Bathurst should be very proud of these three women who have made a major contribution to the fundraiser," she said.
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