The weather may have been cool and overcast, but that didn’t keep families from attending activities at the McDonald’s Houston Children’s Festival in Tranquility Park and the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center in Sugar Land over the weekend.
It was a busy weekend for volunteers working to help abused and neglected children in the Houston area. The McDonald’s Houston Children’s Festival, now in it’s 30th year, not only entertains millions of families, but is also the largest fundraising event for Child Advocates, raising over $5.5 million to help children everywhere suffering from life threatening abuse and neglect.
Martin Mathus, marketing manager for McDonald’s, said being here is like being in “the biggest PlayPlace in the world for the children. We love the energy here, connecting with all of the community and all of the kids, and we are very happy to be a part of it, especially since proceeds go to Child Advocates. It’s an amazing job that they do and we are so happy to support that.”
Anthony Gonzalez, the voice of Miguel Rivera in the Oscar winning Disney film “Coco” was the headliner at the event. Also on stage entertaining youngsters of all ages were Paw Patrol, Ronald McDonald, Curious George and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Gonzalez, a passionate advocate for music and helping children was thrilled to be a part of the event.
“I thought it was amazing and believe festivals like these can inspire kids. It really caught my attention and especially since it was in Houston – I love coming here,” he said.
Harold Kennedy, associate judge for the county courts of Fort Bend County, was on hand in Houston as director of entertainment for the festival. He’s been volunteering at the festival for 25 years.
“It’s all about benefitting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA ). These advocates are court appointed volunteers, who are there for abused children; they stand up for them in court as their special advocate. The child advocates help to make sure the child’s rights are protected and provide whatever needs that child may have,” Kennedy said. “This is the largest children’s festival in the United States, and I don’t see it coming to an end any time soon.”
Not only was there a festival going on in downtown Houston for families, but the charities involved were working for children in Fort Bend County as well. A first time free immunization and dental checkup event was offered to children at the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.
With the support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston, the health care event was operated by Texas Children’s Hospital and UT Health School of Dentistry. Kimberlyn Clarkson, advancement director of Ronald McDonald House Charities, explained how the communities in and around Houston are working together. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles play a big part in reaching families.
“We have forged this wonderful partnership with the Children Museum of Houston and Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center, so now hopefully this is the first of many events we can do for children,” she said. “And through our partnerships with Texas Children’s Hospital and the UT Health School of Dentistry, we have clinicians and student dentists who work out of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles focusing on taking care of children by getting adequate health care to them, including dental checkups and immunizations, wherever they live.”
For more information on the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston, visit www.rmhcghg.org. For Child Advocates, visit www.childadvocates.org.