'It's a real gift': Katie Holmes on her 'moving' new role

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A photo of actor Katie Holmes playing with Play Doh with four-year-old patient Ellie Wild at Ronald McDonald House Westmead.
Katie with four-year-old Ellie Wild at Ronald McDonald House Westmead. Photo: supplied by Enthral.

Katie Holmes has been awake since 3 am but, when she sits down for an exclusive chat with Yahoo Lifestyle, the Batman Begins star looks nothing less than red-carpet-ready.

The A-lister flew into Sydney late last night from her New York City home but jet lag is clearly doing nothing to dampen her spirits.

“I’m very excited to be back in Australia, I shot a movie called Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark with Guy Pierce here a couple of years ago,” she says brightly.

“Everyone I’ve ever met from Australia has been so lovely and welcoming,” she adds.

The mum-of-one - she shares daughter Suri, 13, with ex-husband Tom Cruise - is in town as the national ambassador for McHappy Day 2019, Ronald McDonald House Charity’s largest fundraising event of the entire year.

It’s a long flight from NYC, but the 40-year-old says she’s ‘honoured’ to be supporting such a worthy cause.

“Ronald McDonald House Charity is so incredible and affects so many families in need who are going through such a difficult time, so I’m very honoured to be here,” Katie explains during her visit to Ronald McDonald House Westmead.

A photo of actor Katie Holmes and the Cantrill family at Ronald McDonald House Westmead.
Katie chatted with the Cantrill family during her visit. Photo: supplied by Enthral.

For Jo Feeney, marketing director at McDonalds Australia, the former Dawson’s Creek star was the ‘perfect ambassador’.

“Katie is someone who loves to support children’s charities and does a lot of that in the US so she was a perfect ambassador for us down here,” she says.

Katie tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she had the ‘privilege’ of meeting ill children and their families earlier in the day, an experience that evidently resonated with her as a parent.

“I feel very touched because I think when people are going through such a difficult time you really don’t want to intrude upon that experience, [but the families] have been very open and generous,” Katie says.

“I’ve met some children who are so young and battling leukaemia, getting bone marrow transplants and [battling] brain cancer and the families are so strong and staying optimistic. It’s been a real gift,” she goes on.

A photo of actor Katie Holmes standing in front of a sign at Ronald McDonald House Westmead.
Katie was 'honoured' to be the national ambassador for McHappy Day 2019. Photo: Instagram/katieholmes212.

If it weren’t for RMHC and the accommodation they provide country-wide in the form of ‘Houses’, many of these youngsters and their families would have been forced apart for part of or the entire duration of their treatment.

It’s the way that RMHC allows mums, dads, carers, brothers and sisters to remain together as a family unit during ‘difficult times’ that struck a chord with Katie.

“I was talking to a family today and they said it means so much because they have, I think, three children and if the other two hadn’t been here to keep the little one smiling while he was going through all of his treatments it would’ve really affected him and … it’s just really very moving,” she says.

A photo of actor Katie Holmes and patient Paddy Iffland at Ronald McDonald House Westmead.
Katie and Paddy Iffland, 7. Photo: supplied by Enthral.

While her role as McHappy Day ambassador is set to keep her rather busy, Katie hopes to squeeze in a little downtime Down Under.

“I’m also very excited to go to the zoo and see the koalas and got to the Opera House and just experience Sydney,” she reveals.

A spot of shopping at her favourite Aussie labels, Dion Lee and Zimmerman - which she wears today - might also be on the agenda.

Top of her to-do list is, of course, to bust some fundraising targets.

“My top goal for being involved as ambassador of McHappy Day is to surpass the [fundraising] goal of $5 million and of course create an awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities, and to give people hope,” she says.

When is McHappy Day 2019?

McHappy Day is the largest annual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities in Australia and, in 2019, will take place at McDonalds restaurants across the country on Saturday, November 16.

Since the inaugural McHappy Day in 1991, the annual event has raised more than $46 million for RMHC and this year, the goal is $5 million.

The much-needed funds will continue to help keep families together and provide them with support and resources when their child is seriously ill.

Here are a few ways Aussies can get involved in this year’s McHappy Day:

  • Buying a Big Mac, as $2 from every Big Mac sold on McHappy Day goes directly to RMHC

  • Picking-up a pair of $5 silly socks or a Helping Hand for $2, $10 or $50

  • Making a gold coin donation via the McHappy Day Bucket Brigades

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