For 16 years, RNC Sgt. Jim Lynch of St. John’s donned his police uniform in an effort to serve the public and improve the lives of others.
But then the veteran officer found a way of helping people by donning a different kind of suit — one that has a cape and mask.
“It’s important to help others in need. At Ronald McDonald House, they do such great work. It’s such a great organization and it’s been hit hard (as a result of) COVID (with fewer fundraising efforts and increased demands).”
Several times in the last few years, Lynch has dressed up as Batman and visited Ronald McDonald House, where families of sick children, including young siblings, stay to be closer to the hospital. His brother, Mike Lynch, also stepped up, transforming himself into the popular Marvel comics character, Iron Man.
“It was a great bit of fun … I’m a big man-child,” said Lynch, adding he worked to master his favourite superhero’s deep voice.
“The kids loved it and they would often dress up, too. They were always so happy to see us. It brought a bit of joy to their day.”
The visits were part of Lynch’s Heroes for Heroes campaign, a crusade to help raise money for Ronald McDonald House.
It’s become a family effort, with Lynch’s sisters, Tara and Dayna, and his wife, Lauralee, helping out.
Public service runs in the family.
Jim Lynch served 10 years in the Canadian Armed Forces; Mike is a paramedic and a 15-year member of the Goulds volunteer fire department; Tara is a 10-year RNC veteran who has two years’ service in the Canadian Armed Forces; while Lauralee has been an RNC officer for the past year. Dayna, an engineer, also has two years’ service in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Lynch said his family’s desire to help others was passed down from their parents, Jim and Wanda Lynch, who served with the Canadian Armed Forces and ran the Signal Hill Tattoo, as well as their grandparents, Bill and Winnie St. Croix, who were foster parents to several children over the years, including many with special challenges.
“It’s important to help others in need,” Lynch said. “At Ronald McDonald House, they do such great work. It’s such a great organization and it’s been hit hard (as a result of) COVID (with fewer fundraising efforts and increased demands).”
While the pandemic has prevented Batman and Iron Man from visiting this year, the fundraising mission for “the real heroes” hasn’t stopped.
Lynch and his family are taking donations of money for Ronald McDonald House for a toy drive and other needs for families.
“As a police officer, you deal with a lot of doom and gloom,” said Lynch, adding that the RNC has made a big donation. “This is a way to give back and put a smile on people’s faces.”
It’s certainly put a smile on Christine Morgan’s face. The Ronald McDonald CEO said the Heroes for Heroes campaign helps make a difference in a challenging year.
“We love what they do,” she said. “The Heroes for Heroes campaign is delightfully appreciated, especially this year.”
Morgan said donations have been significantly affected this year as a result of public health restrictions. Yet the need is still there.
“Families are coming to us each and every day needing programs and services, and we greatly appreciate all the efforts people have made to make donations and do things like Jim Lynch and his group, Heroes for Heroes. We can’t help but say thank you for thinking of us in such a difficult year,” she said.
“A lot of people lost their jobs, and businesses were just not performing like they would have in a regular year. All of that translates into making it even more difficult for charities to do the vital work needed.”
Morgan said every aspect of life at Ronald McDonald House has changed this year. Its volunteer program has been temporarily suspended, meaning outside groups that help prepare meals and organize events are no longer there. It’s created added pressure on the already small staff who, besides running family programs, have had the extra responsibilities of having to thoroughly sanitize areas every two hours, making sure public health restrictions are followed and everyone is safe.
“The atmosphere has completely changed inside the house,” Morgan said. “We’ve always encourage families to interact and lean on each other, but that has certainly changed significantly.
“But our staff, our family services team, has really stepped up, doing everything they can.”
Their revenue has taken a hit, as well, Morgan said, with cancelled fundraising events and an overall decrease in donations as a result of the ailing economy.
“A lot of people lost their jobs, and businesses were just not performing like they would have in a regular year,” she said. “All of that translates into making it even more difficult for charities to do the vital work needed.”
To contribute to the Heroes for Heroes campaign, email [email protected]
To donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities Newfoundland and Labrador, visit https://rmhcnl.ca.
Rosie Mullaley is a reporter in St. John’s.