Wanderers dish out smiles at Ronald McDonald House

After starting the season with a win on Sunday evening, the Western Sydney Wanderers kept the good times rolling at Ronald McDonald House in Westmead on Monday.

A-League players Brendon Santalab and Jonathan Aspropotamitis were joined by W-League players Alix Roberts and Katelyn Leadbeatter to cook a meal for families staying at the 18-room house.

They also spent time signing gear and kicking a ball around with the children, who were left beaming by the visit.

Santalab, a Ronald McDonald House ambassador, said it was always special to spend time with kids doing it tough.

“Every little bit helps and it’s nice to go in and make the kids smile,” he said.

“They all go through very difficult times there at the house, obviously along with their families, and it may just be that high-five or that hug that can help brighten their day.

“That’s really important to me and it’s nice to be able to be in a position to be able to give back and help whenever needed.”

Roberts said it was her first time visiting the Ronald McDonald House, and admitted it was “confronting” speaking with families and hearing their stories.

“But in saying that, I think it’s really important to see and hear those stories, and experience the work and what that foundation does for those families,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

The winger, who is balancing studying a bachelor of early education with her playing career, said the highlight was making a connection with the children.

“Whether it was kicking a ball around, or the really good conversations we had getting to know their interests, I think just seeing the children open up and being able to share something with them was the best part of it.”

Saturday evening will see the players and families come together again ahead of the Wanderers match against Central Coast Mariners on McHappy Day, October 14.

The charity day is the major fundraiser for Ronald McDonald Houses and, after scoring in the charity round last year, Santalab is hoping to make some more good memories.

Ronald McDonald House Westmead executive officer Belinda Woolford said she was grateful for the ongoing support of the club.

Players have visited the house several times throughout the year for the past three years, including cooking dinner at least once a year as part of the Meals From the Heart program.

“Every time any of the players come into the house it definitely brightens up the kids’ days,” Ms Woolford said.

“They kick a ball around with them, have fun and are just really great ambassadors for the sport and for their club. The kids love it.”

Ms Woolford said it was “priceless” for families at the house to enjoy a fresh-cooked meal three nights a week from corporate and community groups.

The organisation is looking for more groups to get involved, especially in advance of tripling their capacity early next year.

To find out more or get involved, visit the website or call 9845 0600.