John Doolittle is a familiar face around Shaker High School, having dedicated 17 years so far to teaching various art courses, including Graphic Design, Cinematography, and Advanced Digital Arts. But outside of school, Doolittle’s focus is very different. Inspired by his grandmother’s dedication to philanthropy, Doolittle works tirelessly every year to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. In six years, he has raised $218,000.
“We raised $7,000 the first year, and I took a large amount of pride in that,” said Doolittle. “Now that we’re raising $70,000 a year, the impact is even greater and we’re reaching even more people. That means the most to me.”
Doolittle was recently recognized by country music station WGNA and County Waste as a hometown hero, a program that recognizes heroes based on “their inspirational feats, work helping their neighbors, and everyday passion.”
Doolittle’s work began after his son Jackson spent a week at Albany Medical Center when he was 18 months old, in need of treatment for chronic pneumonia and asthma. During his stay, Doolittle visited the Ronald McDonald House Family Room, a comfortable space where families can find respite and support while remaining close to their ill child.
“I knew then that I wanted to do something to ensure that the Ronald McDonald House Family Room would remain a haven for others dealing with their child’s health crisis,” said Doolittle. “I just didn’t know what.”
From there, Doolittle combined his love for hockey and dedication to charity events and founded the annual Ronald McDonald House Capital Cup for Kids hockey tournament in Troy. To date, 250 players participate every year. In addition, Doolittle has started a full year hockey league, as another fundraising arm for the Ronald McDonald House.
While Doolittle’s philanthropic work is done primarily after the school day has ended, he says the support from North Colonie towards his fundraising efforts is incredible. His wife Erica, a teacher at Boght Hills Elementary, organizes heart sales and dress-down days, and Art Department Supervisor, Anne Manzella, lends support and leadership in Shaker’s pumpkin carving contest.
“I would like to extend an overall thanks for the generosity from all the students, teachers, and administrators who support this fundraising and the Ronald McDonald House throughout the year,” says Doolittle.
Doolittle says he also receives a tremendous amount of support from the Ronald McDonald House Executive Director, Jeff Yule, and Corporate Relations and Events Director, Chris Turner.