Alan Finkelstein the Evolution of RMHC Gala

After two years of virtual events, we are excited to welcome attendees back in person to celebrate the 34th “House That Love Built” gala on Oct. 22 at the Sheraton Grand Seattle! 

Everyone has their unique connection to the gala. One of those supporters is Alan Finkelstein, an owner-operator of six McDonald’s restaurants in Washington. “I started with McDonald’s in 1971 at the restaurant right by the Seattle Ronald McDonald House. I’ve had a close tie to that area almost my whole life,” he said.  “Seeing the kids at RMH and seeing what they are going through every day reminds you what’s important. Families need to have support, and they need to have a place to go when their child is in the hospital.”

Through all those years, Alan has made it a point to attend nearly every gala and auction RMHC of Western WA & AK hosts. The gala is a way for him to step away from business and other responsibilities for a night and invest in a cause he is passionate about.

The original RMH gala was held in 1988 at the Olympic Hotel (now the Four Seasons) in its ballroom with hanging crystal chandeliers, crown molding, and a maximum capacity of 300 people.  Finkelstein said, “We weren’t sure back then if we could fill that room, and then, as word got out, we started to have to turn people away.”

Now the gala has grown to attract 450 attendees pre-Covid, easily filling the room in its current venue at the Sheraton. Over the years, Finkelstein has watched the gala evolve into a fine-tuned event with exciting auction items and specialty food. This year, a seven-night stay at a charming Portugal vacation villa in the Algarve is up for grabs! 

While the gala’s main purpose is to raise funds for supporting RMH families, it is also a time to have fun and gather various communities under one roof to share ideas and information on how to collaborate to help people who need it most.  

Why The Gala Is Important

The gala is one of the House’s biggest fundraisers, and funds are not set aside for a rainy day but are used to pay immediate operating costs like electricity, water and food for the House to run smoothly. This year’s gala is more pressing than ever because our housing capacity has increased from 80 to 105 rooms.  

“As I said, you give till it hurts, and this gives my wife and me another opportunity to give money to families who greatly need it,” Finkelstein said. “We must keep the message alive, and it is a fun event.”