The beauty of hope and love is a recurring theme here at Give Kids The World. The following is a touching story shared by Natalie, a former wish child, who returned to the Village for her wedding.
I visited Give Kids The World (GKTW) in 1996 as a wish child. I have Cystic Fibrosis, and was 10 years old at the time. We spent the week between Christmas and New Years in Orlando enjoying Disney World, Universal Studios and the beautiful weather! Quite a change from our cold Ohio winters! My favorite memories are of the ice cream caboose, the arcade and my daily morning ride on the Enchanted Carousel. We have a ton of pictures (of course not digital) that I cherish. When I met my high school boyfriend we went through the pictures together. I loved sharing my GKTW experience with him, and vowed that I would show the Village to him one day.
Fast forward to 2009. We were recent college grads, who were pretty poor, and looking to get married in Orlando since our honeymoon was booked at Disney World. I contacted GKTW on a total whim, and to this day have no idea what prompted me to. I spoke to a wonderful man who said, “Yes, we do weddings on the grounds!” We spoke more and towards the end of our conversation I hesitantly asked what the cost would be. He was confused at first before answering, “As an alumni wish child, there is no cost!” A free wedding, at my favorite place! I quickly ended our conversation because the large lump in my throat was making it hard to speak. Haha! I had never been more excited to call my mom. Initially, my parents were not going to make it to our wedding, since the cost of paying for the wedding and their trip was going to be too much. Now that the cost was zero, they could come!
We had a wonderful wedding on December 2 of 2009. The weather was perfect, the Village grounds were beyond beautiful and I loved seeing all the new additions to the property since my stay. No one understands how magical GKTW is until they experience it. I have a huge place in my heart for you all, and cannot wait to visit again. Next time my husband and I visit, it will be with our son, Beckett! GKTW will always be my happy place!
Thank you, Natalie, for sharing this touching story with the Village. We were honored to be part of your wish trip, and thrilled to welcome you back for your wedding.