Ad RMCH and VRC partnership will support families like Giovanni and Isabel with their baby Ernesto and Quintero. Photo: Andrew Henshaw, Herald Sun

VRC partners with Ronald McDonald House Charities Victoria & Tasmania for Pin & Win

17 January 2024 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club is proud to announce the Victorian and Tasmanian chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC VIC & TAS) as the official Pin & Win charity partner for 2024-2025.

RMHC VIC & TAS provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation to families with seriously ill children across Victoria and Tasmania, with over 2,307 families benefitting from RMHC VIC & TAS accommodation last year alone.

This is the first time the RMHC VIC & TAS will partner with the VRC for Pin & Win, an initiative established in 1995 to give charities the platform to raise funds through the sale of Lexus Melbourne Cup souvenir pins. The initiative has now raised well over $8 million for Australian charities to help change lives and support our community.

RMHC VIC & TAS is the 17th charity to partner with the VRC, with money raised from the Pin & Win partnership to go towards supporting families to stay at the Ronald McDonald Houses, allowing them to stay together and close to their sick child’s hospital bed, with meals, linen and other support services provided to remove the burden from families going through unthinkable ordeals.

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said the club is delighted to welcome Ronald McDonald House Charities Victoria & Tasmania as the new Pin & Win charity partner.

“We are pleased to establish a partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Victoria & Tasmania through our major fundraising initiative Pin & Win, which will help families who are under enormous pressure caring for their sick kids,” Mr Rosich said.

“The Lexus Melbourne Cup is the People’s Cup and we are very proud of the success of Pin & Win, which has so far raised more than $8 million for Australian charities, helping those in our community who need it most, including raising a record amount of more than $548,000 for the Australian Childhood Foundation in 2023.

“It is very meaningful to announce our partnership at the Ronald McDonald House in Parkville which supports our Flemington neighbours The Royal Children’s Hospital, knowing that the funds raised through Pin & Win over the next two years will be making a difference to their lives.”

RMHC VIC & TAS Chief Executive Officer Peter Bishop said the charity is thrilled to enter a two-year partnership with the VRC’s Pin & Win initiative.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the VRC, with the funds raised going towards keeping together families who don’t live close to the medical needs of their child so that they can focus on their ill or injured child,” Mr Bishop said.

“The partnership will support families to stay at the houses during periods of lengthy hospital treatments through accommodation, education, respite, hospital bedside support and scholarships.”

To mark the new Pin & Win partnership, all funds raised from the VRC’s Love Letter to Racing event on Black Caviar Lightning Stakes Day on Saturday 17 February will go towards RMHC VIC & TAS.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival has helped raise a significant amount for the community, with the last Pin & Win partnership raising more than $1 million over two years, making it one of the most successful fundraising initiatives in the history of the Foundation.

Love Letter to Racing is an annual charity event hosted by 3AW’s Ross Stevenson and features five renowned guests reading aloud their penned ‘Love Letter to Racing’. Speakers this year include UFC featherweight Jack Jenkins, Australian journalist and crime writer John ‘Sly’ Sylvester, and Victorian Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Paul Guerra.

The official Pin & Win campaign will commence later this year, with pins available online, at Flemington race days and events, and a range of retail outlets.

RMCH and VRC partnership will support families like Giovanni and Isabel with their baby Ernesto and Quintero. Photo: Andrew Henshaw, Herald Sun

As part of our partnership announcement we worked alongside RMHC and the Herald Sun to tell the story of a beautiful young family from the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory who have been staying in one of the Ronald McDonald Houses in Victoria since September 2023. Ernesto has been in hospital as a cardiac patient since October of last year and is only 3.5 months old. His Mum Isabel, dad Giovanni and little brother Quintero starred in our photo shoot.

Two weeks before Ernesto Valadares was born, his family had to pack up their lives and move from Darwin to Melbourne. Ernesto had been diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot - a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects - while in the womb and would need at least two surgeries at The Royal Children's Hospital. This meant at least a six month stay in Melbourne for his parents Isabel and Giovanni Valadares and brother Quintero, 3. Ms Valadares said learning of Ernesto's diagnosis was "absolutely shattering", and finding a home to move into added enormous emotional and financial stress, so learning they could stay at a Ronald McDonald House was a huge relief.

"I could breathe again," she said. "I could focus on my baby and getting him better."

The Victoria Racing Club has chosen Ronald McDonald House Charities, Victoria and Tasmania as its Pin & Win charity partner for 2024-25. Proceeds from souvenir Melbourne Cup pins will support the organisation's work in providing free accommodation to families with seriously ill children. "We're very grateful and lucky to have Ernesto at home with us," Ms Valadares said.