Imagine a Village that puts children with life-threatening illnesses first, no matter what. Where the answer is always yes to the families who so often hear no. Where children in wheelchairs are no longer restricted and can ride horses, a carousel, and go for a dip in the pool. Where families can feel the stress and worry lift off of their burdened shoulders for a carefree vacation. Where money isn’t about a worry, and where hosts specialize in spoiling the hearts that need it most. Where children can have ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Where Happiness Inspires Hope.
You’ve just imagined a family’s experience at Give Kids The World (GKTW), a non-profit organization located in Kissimmee, FL, that supports children all over the globe who are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. We are a whimsical Village where families come to stay for a cost-free week of fun and relaxation. Families are given daily passes to local theme parks, including Walt Disney World®, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. All accommodations, entertainment and meals are covered for the families, and the Village is complete with over 144 villas for the families to rest their heads.
While the families have a lot of fun visiting Orlando’s attractions, our Village puts on events for the families as well. Each night there is a different celebration, including Winter Wonderland, Mayor Clayton’s (our six-foot rabbit) Hare-Raising Halloween, Pirates and Princesses Party, a life-sized CANDYLAND game, Village Idol and more. The Village also features a Gingerbread House Restaurant that provides families with breakfast and dinner, a resort-style pool with a 70-foot pirate ship, a jungle-themed theater, a dinosaur-style mini golf course and countless other magical venues.
Give Kids The World wouldn’t be what we are today without the help from our amazing angels, our volunteers. More than 1,400 volunteer shifts are filled each week to make wish children’s dreams come true, with shifts ranging from picking up families from the airport to capturing memories as Village Photographers. Many volunteers travel across the country to come to the Village, and we are always accepting applicants with open arms.
Give Kids The World is blessed with hundreds of partners in wish-granting, including everyone at Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. They are consummate professionals with an immense capacity for compassion and love. Each year for the last five years, this chapter has sent the largest number of wish families to the Village. We are humbly appreciative to have been entrusted with sharing magic, dispensing a whole lot of smiles and topping it all off with a big scoop of hope to thousands of children and families from this area of the US.
For more information on Give Kids the World, visit www.gktw.org.
Pictured above is wish kid Anthony, diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, and his brothers at Give Kids the World.