This is a guest blog written by Village alumni, Ashley.
Everyone who knows me knows that if I could pick the vacation destination each summer, I would pick Walt Disney World without hesitation. However, while on my wish trip in 2016, I discovered my second favorite place, and it’s not a theme park!
This place is a non-profit called Give Kids The World Village that is located in Kissimmee, Florida. It is just a short drive from The Happiest Place on Earth and is completely handicap accessible. In December of 2016, my grandmother, my grandfather, my little sister, my best friend, and myself had the privilege of staying here and it was the best week that I have ever had. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the kindest individuals for an orientation where they tell you all about their nonprofit, as well as all about the activities they put on doing the day, and nightly.
After that, we were left to explore the village and enjoy ourselves. Our accommodations even had a Christmas tree in the corner of the room, which just added to the festive feel that was in the air at the time!
We had ice cream for breakfast, played mini golf with dinosaurs, attended amazing events that they had each night, including the holidays, which were probably my favorite, and best of all, we met some incredible individuals whose stories still stick with me to this day. Throughout our week-long stay, we did not have to worry about the usual doctor’s appointments, and hospital stays that seem to consume me and my family’s life. For a whole seven days, I got to make lifelong memories with my best friend, and those I love most. We laughed until we cried, especially during the last hole of mini golf, we smiled as we watched other families make memories, and I almost cried when we left.
Even though four long years have passed since my wish trip, I still think back on those memories when life gets tough and smile. The volunteers that we met while there each had their own individual stories and by the tone of their voice, one could easily tell that they absolutely loved what they did at the village, even if it was just driving the golf cart around the property. It is because of those selfless volunteers that Give Kids The World is as amazing as it is, and so for all those selfless acts I watched, I thank you again.
Every time we are in the Orlando area, we always go back as alumni to create new memories because, it is a place that allowed us to escape reality for a while, even if it was just for a short week, and be care-free without a worry in the world. I could never actually put into words how grateful our family is for everyone at Give Kids The World Village, and we hope to visit again soon.
We’d love to hear your Village stories. Please share them with us by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org or sharing on social media using #GiveHopeToWishes.