Olympic athletes build gingerbread houses with Ronald McDonald House in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Decorating a gingerbread house was taken to a whole new level after culinary students from the Pikes Peak Community College spent a quarter building themed houses all from just gingerbread and food.

“Whether you’re two or 92, it seems like everybody lights up as they’re trying to figure out like wow, how did they do that and that every piece is made out of food,” said Sam Rush-Walton, the director of development for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of southern Colorado.

The gingerbread village was constructed as a simple way to spread holiday cheer, especially for those who aren’t able to be home for Christmas.

“We all want to be home for the holidays, so whether we’re talking about our critically ill children who are hospitalized and their families staying with us or elite Olympic athletes who are often training very far from home, we all kind of yearn for the simple pleasures of being home,” said Rush-Walton.

For Olympic shooting athlete Sarah Beard, building a gingerbread house is usually a holiday tradition she completes with her family but this year she’s giving it a shot with her Olympic family.

“It’s nice to feel like I have a home away from home here,” said Beard. “There’s always things to do, outlets and events like this where we can always feel like we’re a family.”

And for other athletes like Dakarai Kongela, an Olympic bobsledder, it’s just the simple chance to get out and experience the community.

“It’s easy to feel really isolated in what we do because you’re just kind of in the training center, you get up, you have your routine, you go to bed and you just keep doing that and you don’t get to hang out with friends or family that much so it’s kind of cool to get out in the community and see people and there’s a bigger thing going on here,” said Kongela.

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