For over 20 years Bob Leong has been a fixture at Seattle’s Ronald McDonald House, a home away from home for families with seriously ill children receiving treatment in local hospitals. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the McDonald House’s normally large pool of volunteers thins out, Leong can be found helping prepare five turkeys, five rib roasts, a few hams, and over 100 pounds of potatoes for these often exhausted families. He’s especially known for topping the children’s desserts with mountains of whipped cream. “Some of them just follow me around with empty plates,” he says.
One Christmas years ago, with dinner finished, the room cleared, and dishes cleaned, Leong and his wife were finally about to sit down for their own dinner when a family came rushing in. They had just returned from the hospital with their daughter, who they had flown in from Alaska to receive treatment. “Did we miss dinner?” they asked. “No you did not,” Leong remembers saying, as they offered up their own plates.
Still, Leong feels a little funny about being recognized for such kindnesses, as he considers his time at the Ronald McDonald house time spent in his own home. “Every year he thanks us for allowing him to spend the holidays at the house,” says executive director Dianna Finnerty. “He truly is an extraordinary volunteer."