Local woman takes pies to the face for a good cause

By Katie Harris
The Surveyor

McDonald’s restaurants have supported the families of sick children for over 40 years with their annual Ronald McDonald House fundraisers aimed to collect donations to provide shelter, meals, and medical care to families with children in medical facilities.

Lisa Wagner, Berthoud resident and operations supervisor for four Longmont McDonalds locations and one in Arvada, takes things one step further each year at her stores, with her “pie a manager” program.

“It all started six years ago when one of my managers said ‘Hey, I’ll give you $50 for Ronald McDonald House if you let me throw a pie in your face,’” she said. “I said sure, and it’s all been building since then.”

Now through Nov. 13, anyone who stops in one of Wagner’s stores to make a $20 donation will have the opportunity to “pie” the store manager, or Wagner herself if she’s on site.

“Oftentimes people give more, but I ask for a $20 minimum donation because that’s what it costs for a family to stay at one of the Ronald McDonald Houses for one night,” said Wagner.

The two Colorado houses, located in Denver and Aurora, host over 4,000 families a year, giving them the opportunity to be close to their children when they have extended hospital stays. They ask that each family pay $20 per night, but never turn anyone away for inability to pay, according to Wagner.

In addition to the houses, the charity provides family rooms at three medical centers in Colorado, which serve over 15,000 families each year.

Scholarships for graduating seniors, camps for children with cancer, and mobile care units for those unable to pay for health care are also provided by the funds raised for Ronald McDonald House.

“The doctors and nurses that work the mobile-care units are volunteers, and the houses are staffed primarily by volunteers,” said Wagner. “In my book, the charity’s just amazing and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Wagner said last year over 75 pies were thrown at her restaurants, raising a total of $3,500.

“There are other ways to donate, including buying hands for $1 each at the restaurants, dropping off pop tabs at any of the Longmont locations, or visiting www.RonaldHouse.org and donating to the wish list,” said Wagner. “With our pie program we’ve steadily raised more each year. This year our national goal is $5 million.”

Although the campaign is nationwide, Wagner said all money raised in Colorado stays in Colorado to support the local houses and programs.

“It’s a phenomenal charity, and I’m really proud to work for this company that supports it,” said Wagner. “To allow families to be close to their children when they’re sick, to provide meals, the support is just amazing.”