Volunteer Bob Ward rockin’ the Ronald McDonald house

Bob Ward (far right) and his band Ivy Road Band will perform April 26 at "Rockin' the House" at 5 Paces Inn, benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Courtesy of Bob Ward

Credit: Contributed by Bob Ward

Credit: Contributed by Bob Ward

Bob Ward (far right) and his band Ivy Road Band will perform April 26 at "Rockin' the House" at 5 Paces Inn, benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Courtesy of Bob Ward

Volunteer Bob Ward has witnessed countless families reap the benefits of Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (ARMHC) over the past 30 years and he’s using his musical talents to ensure that continues.

In 2019, he hosted the first “Rockin’ the House,” with live music performed by his band, Ivy Road Band, raffles, food, dancing, and sing-a-longs, all to raise money for families with sick kids. The event has raised $171,830 for the ARMHC, providing over 1,000 nights of accommodation for families in need. Rockin’ the House is free to attend, but Ward hopes they’ll raise at least $50,000 from sponsorships and donations at this year’s event, happening April 26 at 5 Paces Inn in Atlanta.

While the “Rockin’ the House” event is five years old, Ward’s involvement with the ARMHC goes back to 1994.

Ward has been involved in building all three of Atlanta’s Ronald McDonald houses, starting with the one at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston location, which will move near the new Arthur M. Blank Hospital in summer 2025. The other location is at the Childrens’ Scottish Rite Hospital.

Founded in 1974, the ARMHC provides overnight stays for families with hospitalized children, saving them the expense of lodging and meals. Worldwide, the RMHC provides more than 2.2 million stays each year and saves families more than $611 million. Stays can be as short as one night or as long as several months, and sometimes extend to a year or more, depending on the child’s illness and treatment.

“It was my mentor Bob Allen who introduced me to the charity,” said Ward, a principal shareholder at Colliers Atlanta, a commercial real estate firm, where he has been employed for 33 years. “Not only was Bob the consummate professional at work, but he also had a passion for kids. He’d see a kid, get down on a knee and start talking to them.”

Allen invited Ward to join him to serve meals for families once a month at the Ronald McDonald House, something he continues to do.

“That was a big part of what connected me to the charity,” said Ward. “Breaking bread with families, sitting down and having conversations with them — it’s a great way to feel the mission when you’re present and hands-on. It’s so great for the families to have that time together, too, to share experiences and be emotional support for one another. That’s the magic of the house, it’s not just a shelter.”

Ward has toggled between being a board member and a member of the advisory council over the years. In February, Ward received the Good Neighbor Award from the Georgia Association of Realtors, and, in October 2023, he was the honoree at the ARMHC Hearts and Hands Gala. Though Allen died in 2020, his wife attended the ceremony and was seated right next to Ward.

“I felt like I was on Bob’s shoulders,” said Ward. “I wish he could have been there to receive the award.”

Ward used to organize golf tournaments to benefit the ARMHC, but, while attending a board retreat, was inspired to start the “Rockin’ the House” event.

“I’ve been playing classic rock and roll since I was 16,” said Ward, 64. “I was in a band while I was at UGA, then started playing with my current band in 1986.”

The band performs three to four shows a year, singing a mix of cover songs by AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Heart, Journey and more.

“Performing at this event is a fun way to give back and, obviously, ARMHC is my favorite charity,” said Ward, a married father of two grown daughters. “I love kids — hanging with them, playing music for them, coaching them — and that’s where my passion comes from for this charity. It’s a sweet spot for me.”

Volunteering and giving back has never been a chore, Ward said.

“It’s part of the fabric of who I am,” said Ward. “I’m in sales, and when I’m working for charity, I’m still meeting people and developing relationships. So, while I’m never volunteering for monetary reasons, sometimes good things happen from that. You figure out what your talents are, and you put them to good use. God gave them to you, don’t waste them. Every day I say to God, ‘Fill me up with your love and help me go out and share it’.”


Rockin’ the House

7:30 pm. April 26. Free, donations accepted. 5 Paces Inn, 41 Irby Ave. NW, Atlanta.

To make a donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, visit armhc.org