Give Kids The World knows that no one can share the story of a wish trip better than our alumni wish families. This guest blog comes from Jenny, mother of wish child Willem, who visited the Village in August 2013. Jenny, a wish mom and blogger, shares her family’s experience at the Village.
Give Kids The World. Prior to August 2013 these words meant little to me. An accommodation for my son’s upcoming Make-a-Wish trip to Disney World. A place to stay. A minor detail.
And then we were there. And everything changed.
Give Kids The World is more than just a place, it’s an experience. If Eden were to be found on earth, I’m certain that this would be it.
To hear my children describe this place, you’d learn that eating ice cream every day was a requirement. And that breakfast was not complete until they rode the Enchanted Carousel. Twice at least.
They would tell you that the Matthew’s Boundless Playground was a great place to visit before dinner, and that the Park of Dreams Splash Pad was ideal for beating the Florida heat.
My son would run to his room and show you his Give Kids the World “badge” – please do not call it a pin – and explain how special he felt wearing it because it got us extra things.
They’d tell you that you must, just must, use the remote control boats in Amberville during your visit, but perhaps be weary of Marc’s DinoPutt because dinosaurs are lurking there.
Really, they could go on and on. So could I.
Even I was able to feel just what it’s like to be a kid again. It was easy; there were no bills, no grocery shopping, no worrying about appointments or jobs. The only thing to concern ourselves with was what activity we’d do each day.
We went to the Magic Kingdom not once, but three times during our stay. And why shouldn’t we? We had a three day pass after all. And really, there’s nothing better than seeing your two young children giggle as we bounced around on Aladdin’s Magic Carpet ride. Or scream in delight as they experienced their first roller coaster.
Better yet, fall asleep immediately when we put them to bed.
The Magic Kingdom is magical indeed!
Of course, we had to visit SeaWorld. Seeing Shamu in real life felt like we were meeting a celebrity. “There he is, mom, look!” I’d hear over and over again as we waited for his show to start. The dolphin show was equally exciting for all of us, especially when we were first in line to feed the dolphins afterwards. Getting free fish to feed the sea lions was an extra special bonus.
Really, I don’t know how anyone could be grumpy in the land of Dr. Seuss.
Yet, the most joy to be found during our trip was at Give Kids The World. It is difficult to put into words the experience we had there. Amazing? Yes. Personable? Absolutely. Fun? Of course!
But what really stood out at Give Kids The World were the people.
Volunteers were everywhere. Regular people who took time out of their busy lives to ensure that families like ours had the very best experience during our stay. These wonderful individuals demanded nothing in return; no thanks, no gifts, no payments.
Rather, they’d open the doors for us. Insist on carrying our breakfast trays to our table. Or even pulling out a ladder and a flash light to search for a friend’s star on the ceiling in the Castle of Miracles (Once you’ve been in the Castle of Miracles, you’d understand why this was really going out of the way for us).
They’d wave at my daughter every time she glided by on the carousel, even if it meant waving 15 times. And they didn’t blink an eye when she asked if her stuffed elephant could ride along beside her.
They waited patiently as we muddled over what matching tattoo to get.
And they were even quick on their feet to side step my son’s shyness by having my daughter “magically” create two pillows instead of one while visiting the owl’s tree. Today he still carries that pillow around, believing that his sister had enough love to make his pillow too.
This place touched my heart in a way that I didn’t expect. It is a model of philanthropy and altruism that I’ve never found anywhere else. It simply made me want to be a better person. To my family. To myself. To others.
Thank you, Give Kids The World.
A gentle name. But a very powerful place.
I’m so grateful we got to go there.
Thank you, Jenny, for sharing such a beautiful story! GKTW was honored to be a part of your family’s wish trip and we are happy to hear that the memories are still bringing your family joy!