LAKE GEORGE — So many people were interested in finding out how to help create a Ronald McDonald House retreat home in Lake George that hardly any parking spaces could be found at a kickoff meeting Wednesday at the Holiday Inn.
Mayor Robert Blais had organized the meeting to find support for a project to convert the former four-bedroom house owned by Marcia Krantz and her late husband Howard, who once served as village attorney, into a place where families could stay and enjoy some fun in Lake George while they are receiving treatment at hospitals.
Blais was overjoyed with the turnout, which topped a hundred people.
“This is the beginning of a great journey and all of you people are going to be part of it,” he said.
Many partners have already come on board. David McAvinney of McAvinney Builders has offered his services as manager for the project to renovate the house at 161 Ottawa St., which has been dubbed “Krantz Cottage.”
Blais said businesses that are sponsoring rooms in the new house are Vincent Crocitto, owner of the Holiday Inn, Lake George Steamship Co. owner Bill Dow and Albany Rods and Kustoms, which sponsors the annual Adirondack Nationals Car Show in the village.
Blais said Shoreline Crusies, the Lake George Steamship Co. are providing weekly dinner cruises and Gooney Golf is providing outings. Lake George Barbershop is donating haircuts and pastries are being provided by Lake George Bakery. J.J. Johnson Fishing Charters is donating excursions.
Jim Duffy is providing electrician services and Fred Alexi of ABC Equipment and Refrigeration is furnishing kitchen supplies.
The Barnsider, Adirondack Brewery and Lake George Beach Club are also contributing food.
Town resident Dennis Galloway made a sign for the cottage. Painter Dolores Marinelli is also involved in the project.
All four local churches are going to do fundraising, according to Blais.
Lynne Herriman of the Lake George Methodist Church is going to provide clothing from its Hidden Treasures by the Lake shop.
In addition, the church is donating 10 percent of the proceeds from the shop to the Krantz Cottage. Herriman said Ronald McDonald House is a great organization. She had a cousin with leukemia and it is great to give families a chance to be together.
Herriman said Lake George is rallying to the cause.
“We’re a small community, but we all come together and work well,” she said.
Blais also wanted to thank longtime Lake George resident Rene Reardon, who serves on the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities, for her longtime advocacy of the organization.
Debbie Ross, house director for Ronald McDonald House Charities, said she hopes that the house will open in June, but the timetable will depend on donations received.
She said it was “amazing” to see the level of support in the room. She said it seemed like everyone came up to her after the presentation and asked how they could help.
“It’s a real hug from this community — welcoming us,” she said.
Ross said the plan is for the families to stay for one week so they can get away from the stress of dealing with the illness and medical treatments. There will be either a paid staffer or volunteer living in the house to serve as an ambassador to greet the families and coordinate their activities.
She said would also like to invite other Ronald McDonald House families to come up for the day on a weekend and participate in some of these activities.
Ross said the organization sees about 600 families per year at the Albany location.
Ross said Blais got the idea for this project because his daughter volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House. About a year ago, he took a tour of the house down in Albany and said he would work at finding something in Lake George.
Ross said she has fond memories as a child spending time in a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and hopes these families have a similar experience.
Blais said afterward that Lake George is known as a premier family vacation destination, so it is only fitting that it have this type of facility.
“When you think that this is going to be the only vacation cottage present in the United States, that’s really an honor,” he said.
Marcia Krantz said she was “grateful” to be able to honor her husband this way.
Kaitlin Salomon of Richfield Springs, New York, will be the first person to stay at Krantz Cottage. Salomon was diagnosed one year ago with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
She said she was feeling lethargic and getting headaches all the time that were so bad she could barely stand up. Her eyes started swelling and eventually she got the diagnosis.
Salomon said her family used the Ronald McDonald House in Albany over a year while she was receiving treatment.
“It’s an amazing place to be, so you’re close to the hospital,” she said.
She added that she liked that there was always a well-stocked refrigerator and activities.
For more information about how to contribute to the project, contact Village Hall at 518-668-5771, ext. 8. To find out about Ronald McDonald Houses, contact Ross at 518-438-2655.