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'Walk that talk': Ronald McDonald House CEO leads by action

Hal Hedley planned on spending a few years here in Louisville before moving closer to home. That was 25 years ago.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — His parents served the public.  His grandparents served the public.  With hundreds of families touched by the Ronald McDonald House mission here in Kentuckiana, it's safe to say Hal Hedley is following their path. 

The CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana wasn't even looking when he was recruited for the position and only planned on being in Louisville for a couple years. 

On the corner of South 1st street, separated from the hospitals only by I-65, the Ronald McDonald House has been a home away from home for families since 1984. 

In the home's 39 year history in the city of Louisville, Hal Hedley has been the leader for 21.

"When I came in 2001, I was what you might call the chief cook and bottle washer, a little bit of everything," Hedley said.  "It really has changed and evolved, where I can focus on strategic leadership."

A Florida man who came to Louisville for a different position, he really planned on a few years here, then taking another non profit role closer to his home. 

"Moved to Louisville in 1997, just immediately grew very fond of the city," Hedley said about his journey to becoming CEO.  "Wound up marrying a Kentucky girl and the rest is history."

His leadership style rarely lands him behind the desk. He leads by example, never hesitating to roll up his sleeves and help out however he is needed. 

"I think it's really important to be willing to do whatever anyone else would do here," he said of his attitude while at RMHCK.  "I had the opportunity to do that day to day when I first arrived, but even 21 years later when we're fortunate to have more staff, to do more things, I think its important for leaders to walk that talk."

It's part of why he thinks he's been successful in growing the facility from 19 rooms when he first started to 56 rooms in 2020.

"When families are going through the toughest times of their lives with a seriously ill child, they don't need to think about where they're going to lay their head at night," he said of their mission as a charity.  "Even 21 years after starting, that's something that continues to motivate me everyday."

February 18th, the largest annual fundraiser for the charity, The Red Tie Gala, will take place at the Marriott downtown. You can click this link for more information and tickets to the event.

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