Roland Earl Scheetz, known affectionately to us as Papa Rolly, was born on February 5, 1949, and passed away on October 28, 2016. He was a family man and visionary through and through. From farmer to truck driver, from inventor to comedian, Papa Rolly did it all. But the one thing that stood strong through every dream was Papa Rolly’s devotion to his family. He would do anything for his family, friends, and even strangers that he met along the way.
Family is at the core of everything the Ronald McDonald House does. Family is the people who call our House their home, the volunteers who help us run the House, and the amazing friends we meet along the way. We are proud to call Papa Rolly family.
“Over the years I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people who make everyone and everything around them better. Chris Scheetz is right at the top of the list. Chris first introduced us to his dad, Papa Rolly, when he shared the book he wrote Sam the Semi Goes to Chicago before Cars was even an idea. Over time I had the great privilege to spend time with Papa Rolly on a number of occasions, including an entire day when Chris was walking 50km per day for a MADD campaign. On this particular day it was amazing to see the connection between Chris and Papa Rolly and very easy to see how and why Chris turned out how he did.” –Martin Dugas, RMHCNA CEO
What began as telling silly stories to his brothers grew into something more for Papa Rolly. Through his brilliant mind, vision, and love for children, Papa Rolly penned Sam the Semi Goes to Chicago, a story of a semi truck’s journey from Nisku, Alberta to Chicago, Illinois. For 40 years Roland drove a truck and saw just how many children were captivated by his journey. His ingenuity and creativity inspire us to this day. Knowing that a copy of Sam the Semi Goes to Chicago was in our House library for more and more children to enjoy during their stay was an honour for Roland.
After touring the House and attending our annual Block Party, it was clear to us that Roland felt deeply for our families’ journeys, and the medical battles that our House Heroes face. Growing up on a farm in a small community taught Roland that everyone comes together to help one another, something he saw in the culture of the Ronald McDonald House.
Thank you Roland and the Scheetz family for teaching us that anything is possible with a whole lot of hard work, and some wonderful friends to help you along the way.
In Roland’s memory his family and friends donated to the Ronald McDonald House and STARS Air Ambulance.