Rancho Santa Fe residents Hudson and Mary Drake will serve as the honorary chairs of the 10th annual ROMP Gala, benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, Oct. 12 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m.
This year’s event is called “ROMP Enchanted: The Magic of Hope,” and proceeds will help support families with children being treated for illness or injury at San Diego area hospitals.
“I heard this voice, ‘Say yes,’” said Mary, recalling the moment 10 years ago when she and Hudson decided to start planning the inaugural ROMP Gala, inspired in part by friends of theirs who have benefited from the charity’s services.
While Mary and Hudson founded the event, Mary has co-chaired the event with a number of community members, who have shared in the event organization duties.
Ronald McDonald House offers lodging and meals for families so they can remain close to their children as they receive treatment. In some cases, families have to travel to San Diego from out-of-state for emergency surgery or other treatments, and Ronald McDonald House provides a convenient place to stay. It also provides thousands of other families with meals, showers, naps and other support while their children are in the hospital battling conditions such as leukemia, cancer and heart defects that require surgery.
“It was certainly one of the most heartfelt things I ever heard,” Mary said.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego averaged approximately $7.4 million in contributions in each of the past five years to support its work, including nearly $9 million last year. The ROMP Gala is one of four fundraisers the nonprofit will host in October.
Over the last 10 years the gala has been held at either San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House or a third-party venue to accommodate the growing crowd, including big names such as Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. The Drakes and other organizers of the gala wanted to make it a more casual event, with games and various forms of entertainment, as opposed to a more traditional black-tie gathering. Hudson said it “resonates with the community” over the years.
“There’s always a demand, there are always people wanting,” added Hudson, who has served on nonprofit boards including Children’s Hospital, the UCSD Board of Overseers and the Jonsson Cancer Center at UCLA.
Planning the gala is a year-round endeavor.
“There’s so much that goes into this that it’s pretty intimidating,” Mary said.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar is located at 5300 Grand Del Mar Court in San Diego. For more information about the event, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit rmhcsd.org.