It’s not easy to get a bunch of college kids up and motivated at 5:30 in the morning on the day of UCF’s Homecoming football game, but I knew that my Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters Kayla Russin and Amy Dimeglio’s lack of sleep would easily be forgotten the moment they entered the Village for the first time on the day of the Give Kid’s The World Gingerbread Run.
Incredibly excited to show my sisters the magic of Give Kids The World that can be so hard to fully describe to those who have yet to experience it, my sister’s first reaction really wasn’t too surprising. “I just want to run around and frolic!” Kayla exclaimed as she entered the Village and joyfully made her way through the mass of Gingerbread Run participants on the Avenue of Angels. Give Kids The World truly brings out the inner kid in anyone.
Kayla was excited yet anxious to be completing her first 5k. She thought that Give Kids The World’s whimsical environment could help her make it through those three miles a little easier. And she thought correctly– if running past a Gingerbread house, giant balloon sundaes, a mushroom castle, and through eruptions of bubbles of confetti doesn’t help a runner stay cheerful and enthused through their fatigue, I don’t know what does! But it was the kindness and inspiration of volunteers on the sidelines that truly gave her the energy to push through. Mayor Clayton and Mrs. Merry, Gingerbread men and CANDY LAND characters were also there to cheer runners on. “I just loved the peppermint man on stilts; he was so motivational when I was running!” Kayla recalls.
As Kayla darted past guests’ villas and Lollipop Forest, my sister Amy and I decided being a Gingerbread walker was more our style. On our Gingerbread journey, we joined other walkers in taking in the sights of the Village and wishing families a magical week as they stood outside their villas waving to racing passersby. Nearing the finish line we laughed as volunteers dressed as superheroes raced kids in the last leg of the race.
A slime show, awards show and a tour of the Village led by a dedicated volunteer, who’d just completed her 500th volunteer hour, wrapped up our Gingerbread Run experience. Leaving with the gratifying feeling of participating in an event that raises funds to bring joy to so many families, Amy said the best part of the Run was “seeing how happy all of the volunteers and staff were to be [at the Village]. You could tell how thrilled they were to show us around. Everyone involved truly loves Give Kids The World and you could just feel all of the love by being there.”
Give Kids The World is a place where happiness inspires hope and everyone feels loved.
Contributed by Amelia Klug