Dear Give Kids The World,
Jack and his twin, Woody, both have Spina Bifida. Our family is unique, since families with a similar condition very rarely have twins who share the disability and the other diagnoses that can come with it.
When Jack was approved for Make-A-Wish and he wished for a Disney World trip, I wondered if it was the best choice. I thought, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Is this the right thing for him and for our family?” At the time, I had never heard of Give Kids the World Village.
Now I know that his wish was perfect! Our stay at Give Kids The World was meaningful for so many reasons, but our favorite moment was getting to visit the Castle of Miracles and see Jack’s star among the thousands of others on the walls and ceilings there. Jack’s condition can be life-threatening, and I don’t like to think about that. However, when I stood in the castle and thought about all of those wish kids, some of whom are no longer with us, and some whom are now healthy and thriving, I felt honored and so touched to see Jack there and become part of that legacy. I hope he will understand that one day.
We had the privilege of meeting children fighting cancer, living with terrible medical conditions, and learning to adapt to their new disabilities. It felt like we found our people and we’re finally home. In our little town, we don’t know many families like ours.
Another thing that amazed me was the huge number of volunteers from all around the world, and the amazing staff, as well. We were so pampered, Jack once referred to the helpers in the cafeteria as “the servants” instead of the volunteers! He felt like royalty, and he got a little too comfortable with that idea, to be honest.
The Village Idol was also memorable because the boys jumped right in line to perform, and I would never have expected that. The atmosphere was so welcoming, they felt comfortable enough to be on stage and just have fun! The host for the nightly events was energetic and most of all, he treated everyone like regular kids.
We also got to experience complete accessibility. I cried one night as we showered the boys in the huge roll-in shower in our villa. At home, we physically struggle to bathe Jack and Woody, but at Give Kids The World, it was so easy! The playground, the buildings, the grounds, the events, the stage, and the rides were all designed with kids like ours in mind. That was magical and gave me so much hope for my sons’ future.
The theme parks, the special passes, and even the free vacation were amazing, yes. But Give Kids The World made our wish trip truly perfect. On our last day, they chose to have a tuck-in with Mayor Clayton and even opted to stay at the village instead of fitting in a half-day at the theme parks. I really think they wanted to soak in the feeling of being accepted as they are, which isn’t easy everywhere else. Thank you for the things we saw and experienced and for all the hard work behind the scenes we can’t see that made our week special.
-Mariann, Jack & Woody’s mom