The Gift of Giving Back: Marcia and Todd Finlayson are the First Canadians to Receive Prestigious International Award

Marcia and Todd are McDonald’s Restaurant Owner/Operators in Southern Ontario’s York Region and have become the first Canadians to receive the esteemed Gerry Newman McTLC Award of Excellence. This honour was bestowed to the married couple at The Awards of Excellence Gala in Chicago, IL on November 11, 2017 to recognize their outstanding philanthropic support of RMHC.
What would you do if you won a prestigious international award for your charitable work and it came with a US$100,000 cheque? For Marcia and Todd Finlayson, that was an easy question to answer, they would donate it to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a charity that has been close to their hearts for over 30 years!

Marcia and Todd are McDonald’s Restaurant Owner/Operators in Southern Ontario’s York Region and have become the first Canadians to receive the esteemed Gerry Newman McTLC Award of Excellence. This honour was bestowed to the married couple at The Awards of Excellence Gala in Chicago, IL on November 11, 2017 to recognize their outstanding philanthropic support of RMHC.

Who’s Gerry?
Gerry Newman was one of the founders of the Charity and he was the first Chief Accounting Officer for McDonald’s. Since 1988, this distinguished award has been the ultimate tribute to McDonald’s Owner/Operators globally by honouring those who have gone above and beyond to help meet the needs of children and families and exemplify Gerry’s dedication to the Charity’s mission.

The US$100,000 will go to support RMHC Toronto to benefit thousands of families with children who are seriously ill and need to travel hours to receive the treatment they need. RMHC Toronto operates six Family Rooms in four hospitals across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as a seventh Family Room at Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ontario.

“As you can imagine, we could not be more proud,” says Cathy Loblaw, President and Chief Executive Officer of RMHC Canada. “Marcia and Todd have always been guiding partners in mobilizing support for Ronald McDonald House Charities through their close connections with the community and their leadership at McDonald’s.”

It All Started With a McPart-Time Job
Marcia’s career at McDonald’s began in 1976 when she started as crew while attending high school in London, Ontario. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, Marcia returned to McDonald’s to work in their corporate offices and then in 2008 she became a McDonald’s Restaurant Owner/Operator. Her husband Todd joined her full time in the business in May 2015 after a career in consumer goods and retail design and operations.

Marcia and Todd have shared a passion for giving back since their university days when they volunteered and supported the Ronald McDonald House in London. Their philanthropy grew even stronger in their role at McDonald’s where they have been huge supporters of McHappy Day, a charitable day of giving where proceeds from the restaurant on that day get donated back into the community to support charities like RMHC. The Finlaysons have been such an outstanding pillar of support that when the RMHC Toronto Chapter saw the need to bring the services of a Ronald McDonald Family Room to the neonatal intensive care unit of the Markham Stouffville Hospital, they called Marcia and Todd. The couple pledged their support and responded with inspiring leadership: The RMHC Family Room opened in 2013 and has had over 55,000 visits from families needing a place to rest and relax just steps from their child's bedside.

The Model For Their Fundraising Success
Leveraging their passionate leadership and community involvement, Marcia and Todd, together with York Region community leader Roger Keeley, brought together 15 local business leaders to become advocates of their local RMHC Chapter. Affectionately known as the “Fabulous 15,” their focus and mandate was—and continues to be—to raise awareness and funds for RMHC.

In 2017, this community fundraising team developed the “McHappy Day Ambassador Program.” Each of the 15 members committed to securing five Ambassadors (plus themselves) to start their own fundraisers, respectively with a goal of raising $328—the cost to operate the RMHC Family Room at the Markham Stouffville Hospital for one day. The target they had was to raise this money by McHappy Day (the first Wednesday in May) so that they could share the news with their restaurant guests and inspire them to give back by making thoughtful actions like purchasing a Happy Meal or donating their change in the restaurant coin box.

To raise the $328 each, the 90 McHappy Day Ambassadors launched their own fundraisers using RMHC’s Make Fun Matter tool. Here, each Ambassador had a platform to speak about why RMHC is close to their heart and invite their friends and family to support their cause.

Through Make Fun Matter and peer-to-peer networking, Marcia and Todd’s “Fabulous 15” more than doubled their fundraising goals and were able to make a $90,000 donation to the Markham Stouffville Family Room with the combination of all of their McHappy Day fundraising efforts. Their unique model has now led to the development of two other Family Room leadership committees at RMHC Toronto.

“The Finlayson’s, are a true demonstration of community giving in action, says Cathy Loblaw. “Through their care and leadership, they have united their community, McDonald’s restaurants, and RMHC, all in service to families with sick children. Their powerful model of collaboration, inspires each of us to work together to help keep families close. Thank you Marcia and Todd for showing us the way!”

“While we are thrilled to accept this recognition and generous award on behalf of the team, we are equally excited about the wonderful collaboration that has occurred to bring this campaign to life,” Marcia and Todd responded. “The partnership between McDonald’s corporation, RMHC Canada, RMHC Toronto and our local community team is an exemplary model of giving back!”

Past recipients honored at the Awards of Excellence Gala have included puppeteer and screenwriter Jim Henson (1990); Former First Lady Betty Ford (1998); Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (2002); founder of Southwest Airlines, Herbert D. Kelleher (2010); and the Honorable Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s minister of health (2015).

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Because both Marcia and Todd have volunteered and supported several Ronald McDonald Houses since their university days, the RMHC Canada team wanted to know what or who inspires them to give back to their community. Here’s what they said:

Marcia: Our restaurant crew inspires me every day. They work hard, many coming from other countries and making Canada their new home. I am blessed in business and I am blessed that my children are healthy and I want the same for others.

Todd: My father was a busy business man but he always found the time to give back. No matter how much I have on my plate, I know how important it is to help others. If my father could do it, so can I.

RMHC Canada: Winning an international award and being recognized among business leaders and celebrities is a big deal. What would you go back and tell your 18-year-old self?

Marcia: Chose a place to work that values giving back and supports your efforts to do so.

Todd: Start early and give back often. Make helping other people—through volunteering, promoting a cause and donating money when you can—a part of who you are and a way of life.
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