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August 26 -- Greatness Part II

I want to tell you about a man named Jeff McMullen. He found himself in a situation where he had to make a decision between staying famous or being great (for the record, he was not famous, his character was). Jeff spent four years as Ronald McDonald in Arizona and Southern California for McDonald's Corp. On “Ronald Day,” once a month, he visited as many of the community hospitals as possible. The visits make a difference for children who are hospitalized.

There are two restrictions placed on Ronald McDonald’s visits; first, he had to be accompanied by a McDonald’s representative and hospital personnel. Secondly, “Ronald” was not allowed to physically touch anyone within the hospital. Breaking either of these rules, was grounds for immediate dismissal.

Toward the end of his fourth year as Ronald, Jeff was heading down a hallway on his way home, when he heard a little voice, “Ronald, Ronald.” He stopped. The soft little voice was coming through a half-opened door. He pushed the door open and saw a five-year-old boy lying in his father’s arms, hooked up to more medical equipment than Jeff had ever seen. The boys mother was on the other side, along with grandma, grandpa and a nurse tending to the equipment. McMullen knew by the feeling in the room that the situation was grave.

He walked in and asked the little boy his name – it was Billy. Jeff did a few simple magic tricks for Billy. As he stepped back to say goodbye, Jeff asked Billy if there was anything else he could do for him. “Ronald, would you hold me?”

Such a simple request. But what ran through Jeff's mind was that if he touched Billy, he could lose his job. So he told Billy he could not do that right now, but he suggested that the two of them could color a picture. Upon completing the picture, Billy again asked “Ronald” to hold him. By this time Jeff’s heart was screaming “yes!” but his mind was screaming, “No. You are going to lose your job!”

“Hold me.”

Jeff began searching for a reasonable way to leave the room without honoring that request. He could not find one, except that if he lost his job he would also lose his car, and maybe his home. Jeff’s heart ached and he went deep into his soul and there he felt God’s call. He decided he would not pass up the opportunity to bring a little happiness to a dying boy.

Jeff sent Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa out of the room and his two McDonald’s escorts out to the van. The nurse tending the medical equipment stayed, but Jeff asked her to turn her back for a short time. He then picked up this little wonder of a human being. He immediately saw how frail and scared this boy was.

The two laughed and cried for the next forty-five minutes and the boy talked about the things that worried him. Billy was afraid that his little brother might get lost coming home from kindergarten next year, without Billy to show him the way. He worried that his dog wouldn’t get another bone because Billy had hidden the bones in the house before going back to the hospital, and now he couldn’t remember where he put them. These are problems of a little boy who knows he is not going home.

On his way out of the room, with tear-streaked makeup running down his face, Jeff gave Billy's mom and dad his real name and phone number (another cause for automatic dismissal for Ronald McDonald), and said if there was anything that he could do, to give him a call and consider it done.

Forty-eight hours later, Jeff received a phone call from Billy’s mom. She informed him that Billy had passed away. She and her husband wanted him to know, and also they wanted to thank him for making a difference in their little boy’s life. Shortly after Jeff left the room, she said, Billy looked at her and said, “Momma, I don't care anymore if I see Santa this year...because I was held by Ronald McDonald.”

It is amazing what a person can do when they follow the path of their Lord.

Be great today!

~ Dan

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