A TRIP to McDonald's today will give a helping hand to thousands of Australian families with seriously ill children.

Gladstone city and Kin Kora McDonald's restaurants will be all smiles as McHappy Day celebrations take over.

Gladstone McDonald's licensee Ron Hawkins said McHappy Day aimed to raise $3.66 million for the charity in 2012 to continue to provide support and services to the families of seriously ill children.

"McDonald's restaurants across the Gladstone region are preparing to beat last year's fundraising amount with a series of exciting activities planned, including face painting, lucky dips, a raffle and a lolly jar guessing competition," Ron said.

Eleven-year-old Zoe Cirson understands the importance of McHappy Day better than most people.

She experienced first-hand the support of Ronald McDonald House last year after she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a cancerous tumour of the bone, in her finger.

Her mother Toni said the family had to relocate to Brisbane for 11 months so Zoe could receive chemotherapy.

"We were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House Herston at a time when we were feeling unsafe and isolated," she said.

"The house felt like home; we called it home. It had a sense of security at a time when the rest of our lives didn't have any."

After 12 weeks of chemotherapy, Zoe's finger was amputated and she had to face another 22 weeks of chemotherapy.

"We are so grateful for the staff and volunteers at Ronald McDonald House Herston; they were incredible and we cannot praise them enough," she said.

"Even though we looked forward to going home, we were very sad to leave the house."

While staying at Ronald McDonald House, Toni met other Gladstone families.

"Ronald McDonald House really makes a difference in regional areas," she said.

"Since we returned home, Zoe has also been enrolled in the Ronald McDonald Learning Program to catch up with her studies after her long hospital stay."

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