Tucked away in Miss Pitty Pat’s Garden of Hope is a special place called Bethany’s Garden, named after a special little girl, wish kid Bethany. It’s a place where our very own Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry call home. Bethany’s wish trip was in April of 2004 and according to her grandparents Kerry and Diane Slaven who are lovingly known around the Village as Mama Bear & Papa Bear, Bethany loved Give Kids The World more than any of the amusement parks. While she enjoyed all the Village activities, she always gravitated to her favorite place, Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry’s house.
Although Bethany had lost her sight from brain tumors, she found peacefulness at Give Kids The World. She played and continued to create memories with her family. “I will never forget the Winter Wonderland Party on the Avenue… Bethany and I danced and danced! That would turn out to be her last Christmas,” said Papa Bear.
The house that Bethany enjoyed most sat on a patch of dirt during her wish trip. After Bethany’s wish, Mama Bear and Papa Bear began donating things to surround it, making it even more beautiful. The Slaven’s have added to the tranquility of the garden surrounding Mayor’s cottage with a charming mosaic bench, a lovely garden trellis and a whimsical butterfly-themed table and chair set. These dedicated supporters and volunteers have made it a tradition to travel to Give Kids The World annually hoping to provide the same magic and hope that Bethany experienced to other wish children and families.
Bethany passed away in August of 2005, but her memory lives on forever. It lives in the hearts of her entire family, shines brightly in our Castle of Miracles and soars over Bethany’s Garden. To Mama and Papa Bear, seeing the wonder in the faces of other kids playing in that house is seeing their granddaughter’s legacy.
“Every year we go back to volunteer we can still hear our Bethany giggling and laughing inside that little house. And we laugh…and we cry.” – Mama Bear & Papa Bear