This is a guest blog written by Village alumni, Lauren.
I was diagnosed with a Stage 4 Wilms tumor when I was two. In 2001, my family and I stayed at Give Kids the World as part of my wish trip after a year of battling cancer. Although I was extremely young when my wish took place, I grew up with an amazing photo album that captured my memories and experiences! My wish trip gave my family a sense of normalcy and much needed time to relax after a year of such extreme stress.
My favorite memory is definitely the carousel. I insisted on riding it at least three times a day (after breakfast, lunch and dinner) and I chose the unicorn every single time. For one week, my family and I were plunged into an environment full of smiles and acceptance and absent of hard decisions. In fact, the only decision we had to make at Give Kids The World was how many trips we would take to get ice cream, which of course the answer was as much as we wanted.
The older I get and the more I look through my photo album of Give Kids The World memories, the more I realize the Village brought me hope and light. It helped me realize I was not alone in what I went through; I gained a new family. My Village family looked past what I had gone through and saw a person instead of an illness or disability. That never changed, even 19 years later on my first trip back as an Alumni. I visited the Village with my school last December and upon arrival it felt like I had come “home” again.
To families waiting for your wish during these unprecedented times, your trip will happen! Give Kids The World will always be here – whether through social media outlets, online celebrations, or in person – with open arms and gigantic smiles waiting to welcome you and your family. Stellar the Star Fairy is eagerly finding the perfect place to put your star in the Star Tower and Mayor clayton is making sure all is right and safe for your visit or return.