Editor’s note: Kaitlin Sparks visited the Village as a wish child in 1995. Recently, she participated in our Over the Edge event. She wrote about her experience for Once Upon a Village.
Life changing. That’s the best phrase to describe what Give Kids the World means to children and families. For me, my dream came true in 1995 when I was granted a wish to go to Disney World and was fortunate enough to stay at the Village.
I had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 1993 and been patient through countless treatments, including spinal taps, chemo, and even one finger prick!
For my family, our visit provided a much-needed respite in a worry-free environment. Most kids my age had been able to swim, have play dates, and even begin school. For a child going through chemo, or battling other critical illnesses, that’s not possible.
The Village surrounded my family with support in a way that allowed me to just be a kid. I wasn’t looked at as the kid with cancer because my hair was growing in or because I had a catheter.
I got to spend every day getting ice cream in the old ice cream caboose. I rode thrilling rides and met the characters of my dreams. I even got to meet Snow White on the day I was wearing my matching outfit!
Because of all my wonderful memories from my week at the Village, my family became involved with helping Give Kids The World provide the same experience to other families. My father had the pleasure of joining the board a few years ago and both my parents have participated in volunteer days.
It was an easy decision when my dad forwarded me an email about the Over The Edge event, asking if I was interested. I signed up less than a week later!
While I had some anxiety about rappelling all that way, I would do it a thousand times over if it meant I would be helping another family experience the joy that my family and I got to experience in 1995.
Kaitlin lives in Jacksonville, FL where she works as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst helping children with disabilities. She attended UCLA and Nova Southeastern University before settling in Jacksonville. She strives to give other children the same opportunities she had as a young girl.
A big thank you to everyone who made our first-ever Over The Edge such a success. Click here to learn more about this year’s event and see how you can prepare for Over The Edge 2019!