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Ronald McDonald House Charities and WestJet surprise a Coach Dad for Father's Day

CALGARY, June 14, 2017 /CNW/ - Together with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Canada, one of eight WestJet Cares for Kids partners, WestJet today released a new video to celebrate Coach Dads and to highlight how Ronald McDonald Houses help keep families of sick children close. Click here to view the Coach Dad: A Father's Day surprise video.

Troy Hunt and his family from Clarenville, Newfoundland are the focus of WestJet’s new Father’s Day video (CNW Group/WestJet)

The video puts the spotlight on Troy Hunt and his family from Clarenville, Newfoundland. After Troy's 13-year-old son Darian was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2016, the family went to St. John's – nearly 200 kilometres away from their hometown – so Darian could undergo treatment. Since more than 70 per cent of Canadians live outside a city with a children's hospital, when a child becomes sick, families often travel hundreds of kilometres to get the treatment and care their child needs. For 134 nights, the Hunt family stayed together at Ronald McDonald House Newfoundland & Labrador. In March 2017, Darian went to Toronto to undergo a stem cell transplant, donated by his father. Darian and his mom and dad moved into Ronald McDonald House Toronto, where they remain to this day as Darian continues his recovery.

"As fathers, we bond with our kids over the things we are passionate about. For Darian and me, one of those things is hockey," said Troy. "He has been playing since he was in grade one and his best friends also play on the team. Watching Darian go through what he has, we know it's difficult for Darian to be away from home and away from his friends and teammates."

This Father's Day, WestJet and Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada surprised Troy and Darian by bringing together some of those who mean the most to them. Read more about the special reunion at RMHC Toronto on the WestJet blog.

"For the past 10 years, WestJet has been committed to supporting children's health and wellbeing through WestJet Cares for Kids," said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Marketing and Communications. "We were so inspired by Troy and Darian's story that we went to work with our WestJet Cares for Kids partner Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, to bring the Hunts and members of their extended hockey family together. Bringing a sense of normalcy and togetherness to the Hunt family, even if just for a moment, is what we aspired to do because WestJet owners care."

"While Ronald McDonald Houses provide families with a caring place to stay while their child receives treatment at a nearby hospital, perhaps the greatest gift Ronald McDonald Houses offer families like the Hunts is the gift of time together. Every moment together is another opportunity for our families to create cherished and treasured memories," said Cathy Loblaw, President and CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada.  "Together with our incredible partners at WestJet, we are so grateful to have been a part of this beautiful surprise for Troy and Darian and to have supported the Hunt Family on their journey at RMHC Newfoundland & Labrador and RMHC Toronto."

The Hunt family, WestJet and RMHC Canada are sharing this special story to inspire Canadians to support the more than 30,000 families that call Canada's 15 Ronald McDonald Houses and 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms "home" each year.

ABOUT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE CHARITIES® CANADA
RMHC Canada is the national foundation of support for Canada's 15 Ronald McDonald Houses, 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles across the country. Collectively, these programs support over 30,000 families each year, providing access to quality health care and enabling family-centered care. All by keeping families close – one family at a time. The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across the country provide a home for out-of-town families whose children are being treated at a nearby hospital, while the 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms offer families a place to rest and recharge right inside the hospital. Completing our circle of support are 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, mobile health units that bring medical care to underserved communities in Alberta. As our founding and forever partner, and RMHC's largest donor, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada, their franchisees and guests, generously provide over $10 million annually to help support the RHMC network of programs for families with sick children across Canada. For more information, visit www.rmhc.ca.

About RMHC® Toronto
Canada's first and largest Ronald McDonald House, RMHC Toronto has been fulfilling its mission since 1981 to provide a "home away from home" for families of seriously ill children undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital. We operate a House for 81 families in downtown Toronto and 7 in-hospital Family Rooms across the Greater Toronto Area and in Northeastern Ontario. We keep families close when they need each other the most. For more information, visit www.rmhctoronto.ca.

About RMHC® NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR
Ronald McDonald House Charities Newfoundland and Labrador helps keep families with a sick or injured child close to each other and the care and resources they need, when they need it most. Open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, Ronald McDonald House features many common areas including a large kitchen, family room, television room, resource center, home office, children's play areas and laundry facilities.  Ronald McDonald House is open to parents, siblings and at times, extended family members of children receiving medical treatment in St. John's.  It draws on a large pool of committed volunteers who help families feel at home.

About WestJet
We are proud to be Canada's most trusted airline, powered by an award-winning culture of care and recognized as one of the country's top employers. WestJet, and our regional airline, WestJet Encore, offer scheduled service to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Through our partnerships with airlines representing every major region of the world, we offer our guests more than 150 destinations in more than 21 countries. Leveraging WestJet's extensive network, flight schedule and remarkable guest experience, WestJet Vacations delivers affordable, flexible travel experiences with a variety of accommodation options for every guest. Members of our WestJet Rewards program earn WestJet dollars on flights, vacation packages and more. Our members use WestJet dollars towards the purchase of WestJet flights and vacations packages on any day, at any time, to any WestJet destination with no blackout periods  ̶  even on seat sales. For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.  

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Ronald McDonald House and WestJet today released a new video to celebrate Father's Day (CNW Group/WestJet)

Troy Hunt and his family from Clarenville, Newfoundland are the focus of WestJet’s new Father’s Day video (CNW Group/WestJet)

SOURCE WestJet

For further information: Media contacts: To contact WestJet media relations, please email media@westjet.com; To contact RMHC Canada media relations, please email Roxanna.KassamKara@ca.mcd.com.


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