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Limited-edition Chiefs flags help RMHC-KC keep families like the Lessings together

'We never expected to see ourselves here'
Damon Lessing 1.png
Damon Lessing.png
Posted at 10:00 AM, Sep 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-06 12:19:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With just one day until the Kansas City Chiefs' home opener, fans are celebrating Red Wednesday.

Festivities include the sale of limited-edition Chiefs flags. Supports can snag their own for just $5 at more than 135 Kansas City-area and St. Joseph McDonald’s restaurants — all for a good cause.

The money goes to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City, which has been helping families in KC for 42 years. RMHC-KC provides families a space to sleep, eat and spend time together while hospitalized children receive care.

“Who knew a little flag could make such a big difference and have such a big meaning to me, and just keeping my family together during such a hard time,” Ashley Lessing said.

The Lessings have been using the Ronald McDonald House on and off since April. Their 4-year-old son, Damon, was diagnosed with leukemia in February.

“He just has such a happiness and joy about him that spreads to everyone who meets him,” Ashley said.

Damon receives his treatments in Kansas City, but the Lessings live two hours away in Fort Riley.

“We never expected to see ourselves here. You just think of being on the other end of doing the helping,” said Ashley’s mom, Michelle Ahlgren.

When Damon first became sick, Ashley said she knew she needed help. She has a 1 1/2-year-old daughter at home, too.

Now, Ashley’s mom and daughter stay at RMHC-KC, which gives Ashley more time to focus on Damon.

“Sometimes I think, 'What would we do if we didn’t have this place?'” Ahlgren said.

RMHC-KC Chief Development Officer Mike Jeffries told KSHB 41 reporter Elyse Schoenig every flag counts on Red Wednesday.

“We have never been as full as we are right now,” he said. “We have 91 bedrooms, all are full nearly every night. And we’re renting 10, 15, sometimes 25 hotel rooms every night to accommodate the families who need us.”

He said the generosity of the Kansas City area is what keeps RMHC-KC going.

“This amazing, giving, generous community pays their way for them, through things like Red Wednesday,” he said.

And through such generosity, families like the Lessings can call KC their home away from home.

“Kansas City knows how to be kind and generous,” Ashley said. “They do it in a nonboastful way, too. They do it out of the spirit of wanting to help, wanting to better the area that they live in and to help the people that, at least temporarily, live here.”