Many years ago, when we lived in Orlando, I got a phone call from a friend in New Jersey. She was coming to Orlando, all expenses paid, and was hoping to catch up with me.
How wicked awesome, I thought! A fully paid trip to Orlando – theme park tickets, accommodations, airfare! What do you have to do to score a vacation package like that?
I had not yet heard of Give Kids the World. I knew, of course, that seriously ill children were often granted wishes to visit Walt Disney World, but I had no idea that such a place like the Give Kids the World Village existed. When my Jersey friend finally did arrive, I learned that she and her family had been flown down to celebrate what may have been a final vacation with her granddaughter, who had leukemia.
I was overwhelmed by the information she shared about Give Kids the World Village. I was bowled over by her description of the fairytale like atsmosphere and the amazing people who volunteered at the Village. And I knew that somehow, I wanted to be a part of it all.
Throughout the years that we lived in Central Florida, I often visited the Give Kids the World website to browse their wish list, and Brighid and I would gather some things and deliver them to the Village. It felt like something so small, but then in 2009, when I became a member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, I felt like I had bonded with a group of people so amazing, so magical, so filled with pixie dust that they would understand my love and passion for the children at the Village.
We were small but mighty that first year. We raised in the area of $1500, which we donated to be used in a memorial garden. The day that we made our donation, we were fortunate enough to be granted a tour of the Village. We visited the salon, where beautiful princesses are created. We stopped by the ice cream parlor, where even for breakfast, ice cream is an option. We saw the cozy cottages and the awesome playgrounds. There was nothing here that would make anyone think this was a place for sick kids; it was a place for kids – with everything a child could dream that would transport them away – even for just a short time – from the daily routine of doctors, nurses, needles, and medicines.
The mantle has passed on, and my Mom friends are still doing all they can not only to raise money for this wonderful organization, but to bring attention to the incredible work they do. We want you, in some small way, to feel like we felt when we toured the Village – where we were not only impacted by how happy a place they have made it, but where we were overcome with sadness in seeing the number of stars that blaze a trail in the skyin one of the buildings in memory of every child that has passed through the Village. We want you to know how many of us were reduced to tears as we stood awkwardly silent in the chapel, where so many Moms and Dads stood before us, praying for the lives of their precious children; and thanking God and the Village for the chance to be a normal family – if only for a week.
I have personally known children who have visited the Village through the years. Some are grown now, possessing just a fading memory of a childhood where innocence was replaced with illness. Some will remain forever children, as they were taken Home to bloom in the gardens of Heaven.
But all of them – and their families – will have treasured memories of the magic, the memories, and the pixie dust that they shared in one incredible week at this amazing place.
We would love it if you joined us in supporting the magic and the memories created by Give Kids the World. Please consider “Liking” our Facebook page, and share it with your friends, so that even more people become aware of the Village and the amazing work they do. Visit the page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/DisneyFansGKTW and click “LIKE” at the top!
And if you can, please consider making a donation to the Village through the webpage my friends have established. With faith, trust, and pixie dust, many things are possible. There’s a smile to be had with every dollar that is donated. There is nothing more magical than that! http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/DisneyFansGKTW/reunion