Have you ever heard of Give Kids the World Village? It’s one of Orlando’s best-kept secrets: a quaint little resort tucked away in Kissimmee, just about 15 minutes away from Walt Disney World. However, if your family has a critically ill child, you might be all too familiar with the resort.
Give Kids the World Village is a place where sick youngsters get their fondest wishes granted, whether they want to meet Anna and Elsa, swim with a dolphin, or do anything else the Orlando attractions can offer. The resort provides an entirely free vacation to the children and their families, and they get to spend a worry-free week in a homey villa. Instead of focusing on the next doctor visit, all they have to worry about is what ride to go on first and whether it’s okay to have ice cream for breakfast again.
Give Kids the World Village is run entirely on donations, and less than 7 cents out of each dollar goes for administrative costs, that means that 93 percent of donations go right to providing services. In addition to donors, the resort relies on corporate partners like Boston Market, Papa Johns Pizza, and Perkins, all of which donate the food served in its restaurants; places like Krispy Kreme, which gives sweet treats; and companies like Hasbro, which provides toys for the weekly year-’round Christmas celebrations.
Give Kids the World Village just held its third annual Blogger Bash to help raise awareness of its work online. In the video below, Pamela Landwirth, wife of founder Henri Landwirth, talks about the resort’s mission:
Even celebrities like Kevin Bacon recognize the amazing work done at the resort. If you’d like to join him in the Ice Cream Challenge to help raise money for Give Kids The World Village, check out my recent article with full details (it also contains a video of Bacon losing the challenge to a six year old child and cheerfully paying his $6 penalty).
In addition to visiting the theme parks, kids have fun right at the resort, which has its own rides and offers visits by characters, movies, game shows, swimming, and a week of various holiday celebrations. At night, Mayor Clayton even goes around to the villas to do personal tuck-ins. Other characters, like Rugby and Reme, make regular appearances, too. It’s a place where happiness reigns, even for kids whose lives aren’t generally too happy when they’re in and out of hospitals.
Give Kids the World Village is one of my favorite charities, and my favorite place on the grounds is the Star Tower. Each child who visits creates a star, and fairies magically place it on the walls or ceiling. The stars stay there forever as a symbol of the happy memories made by each family. I always feel a bit melancholy when I see it because I know that many of those children didn’t live much longer when they returned home. Thankfully, others beat their illness, and even for those who didn’t, their families will forever cherish the memory of a time when they were able to let go of their cares, at least for a little while, and enjoy a truly magical world.