Give Kids The World Village News

Don’t Miss the Sweetest Race of the Season!

The Gingerbread Run 5K is just a few short weeks away! Give Kids The World’s signature race invites participants to walk, run or roll past a magical castle, a snoring tree, the world’s largest CANDY LAND game, colorful characters and more. The whimsical 5K celebrates the joys of childhood in a storybook setting.

Gingerbread Run

Murphy the Gingerbread Man and the rest of the GKTW team are cooking up tons of fun for this year’s event, which is Saturday, November 12. There’s still time to register online at You can also join us as a “virtual runner,” if you are unable to make it to the event but would like to participate in the sweetest 5K of the year!

Register Now!


Perkins Pancake Day Delivers Smiles across the Country

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery helps families at Give Kids The World Village enjoy dream vacations and delicious meals. Since the Gingerbread House Restaurant opened in 1990, more than 5.5 million complimentary meals have been served to wish families from around the world.

On September, Perkins invited customers to enjoy a little treat while supporting Give Kids The World Village. Participating locations served up smiles with free short stacks of pancakes as part of Give Kids The World Pancake Day. Perkins hopes that, in return, customers would make a donation to the Village.

For a number of Perkins restaurants in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the day featured visits from Mayor Clayton. Adrianne Philion, assistant manager of corporate development, joined Mayor Clayton for a little fun at these restaurants. The pair were even able to catch up with some Give Kids The World Village alumni families.

Perkins Restaurants & Bakery locations across the U.S. collected donations to benefit Give Kids The World Village and celebrated a successful event. Thank you so much to our pals at Perkins!

Carry Light

#CARRYLIGHT Ignites Hope and Happiness at GKTW

ALEX AND ANI jewelry is known for its charms and distinct jingle. The company, a valued Village partner, recently introduced its LIBERTY COPPER collection, featuring original copper from an icon of light, freedom, and hope — the Statue of Liberty.

The collection aims to inspire and spark gratitude, as ALEX AND ANI asks its clients whom or what they “carry light” for in their lives. The #CARRYLIGHT hashtag is fast becoming a social media trend as people from the around the world share videos and photos of what inspires them most.

At Give Kids The World Village, we’ve asked our families, staff, Angels, and supporters how they carry light. If you follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you may have already seen some of the special stories we’ve shared. You can join the movement and pass the torch by telling your own story using the hashtag #CARRYLIGHT.

In addition to sharing your story, you can support Give Kids The World Village when you shop ALEX AND ANI. Get your LIBERTY COPPER or any other collection pieces at ALEX AND ANI will donate 10% of net sales to Give Kids The World Village.

#CARRYLIGHT continues now through December 2016. Please follow and share with us who lights up your life.


Eddie playing the Trumpet

Music is Magic for Wish Kid Eddie

Give Kids The World Village invites children and their families to make dreams come true in a storybook setting. For wish kid Eddie, that dream included treating the most important people in his life to a trumpet serenade.

Eddie has always loved listening to and playing music for his family. At home, his collection includes a violin, drums, saxophone, French horn, and trumpet. When the Dream Factory asked Eddie what his wish might be, he was inspired by the performances of André Rieu, a Dutch violinist and conductor who performs in beautiful castles with the Johann Strauss Orchestra.

Eddie wanted to “play the trumpet in a castle for the king and queen,” — his dad and mom. With the help of Mayor Clayton and a princess, Eddie performed a special opening ceremony at the Village’s Castle of Miracles. His mom and dad, wearing crowns and capes, enjoyed a magnificent tune as they took their places on royal thrones.

After the performance, the royal family posed for portraits with Mayor Clayton. Eddie even remembered that it was the Mayor’s birthday and presented him with his favorite treat — a carrot! Thank you, Eddie, for sharing your talents with Give Kids The World Village!

Banyan Park

Banyan Park Opens Next Month

For 30 years, Give Kids The World Village has been the home away from home for thousands of families every year. As the demand for Central Florida wishes has grown, so has the Village itself. Banyan Park is the newest expansion, and soon, its first phase will add 24 new villas to the resort.

Michael Bausman, GKTW’s director of facilities resources, said Banyan Park will feature the Village’s first three-story buildings and three-bedroom villas. The buildings now have power, the elevators have been installed, drywall completed and windows mounted.

The whimsical new villas feature top-quality materials and furnishings, thanks to the support of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Like our other villas, they are full accessible. Longtime friend of Give Kids The World, Welbro, partnered with the Village to build Banyan Park.

“Welbro is a great partner to us, and we’ve worked with them on a number of past projects,” said Michael. “Best of all, they really know us and understand our needs.”

The buildings were recently painted in a range of pastels and perfectly placed green leaves. Splashes of Hope, a nonprofit art organization that transformed the walls of Audrey’s Pool is visiting Banyan Park to create custom murals on the buildings’ interiors. The team has carefully mapped three-story murals featuring many of the Village’s landmarks and characters.

Give Kids The World has scheduled a ribbon cutting for November 11. Soon after, the first families will stay at the newest chapter of the storybook resort.

“We’re really excited to open Banyan Park and be able to welcome more families to stay on property,” said Michael. “This way, they really get to make the most of their time and enjoy everything we have to offer, from tuck-ins with Mayor Clayton, to getting ice cream for breakfast while still wearing their pajamas.”

Scoops of Hope

A Look Behind-the-Scenes of New Parade Floats at GKTW

In September, Give Kids The World Village debuted an exciting addition to our weekly entertainment offerings. Thanks to our generous partners at “Toys R Us,” the Village unveiled a new parade featuring favorite characters who appear to have come straight from the toy box.

The figures were once part of a 65-foot tall Ferris wheel inside the Toys “R” Us store in Times Square. When the company closed that location, it donated 14 of the ride’s uniquely themed carts to the Village. Over the past few months, GKTW transformed several of the carts into parade floats.

Woody, Buzz, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and more characters from films and games enhance three of the floats. The fourth and final float features Give Kids The World’s very own Stellar the Star Fairy, and is called the “Star Catcher Odyssey.”

It took collaboration across different teams to make the parade floats a reality. Michael Bausman, director of facilities resources, researched and crafted the mechanics, adding wheels and attachments. Graphic Designer John Carrillo designed an original wrap for one of the carts, inspired by the Village’s resident Star Fairy, Stellar. The “Star Catcher Odyssey” takes flight with a magical nighttime scene of purple clouds and shooting stars.

As the floats came together, Give Kids The World’s entertainment team brainstormed when a new parade could be worked into the weekly schedule of parties. Entertainment Director Abby Kracoff said that one of the best things about the parade is that it allows visiting children to participate.

“We often learn through wish-granting organizations that children wish to be part of a parade,” said Abby. “This has been challenging to do in the past, but we now have a number of floats they can ride in, including one that is completely wheelchair accessible.”

Families, board members, volunteers, as well as supporters from “Toys R Us,” American Airlines, and Hasbro were invited to enjoy a special premiere of the parade during a Once Upon a Village Party in September. The floats were previewed and ridden by pirates, princesses, knights, and a mermaid, all of whom joined in the party once the parade arrived.

Soon, the parade will be part of the Village’s weekly Winter Wonderland party. Best of all, there are more carts awaiting a little Village magic to become part of the fleet.

“The parade sparked a lot of exciting ideas and new possibilities for us,” Abby said.

P.F. Changs

P. F. Chang’s Volunteers Share Good Fortune at GKTW

In the days following Hurricane Matthew, Give Kids The World Village was visited by the perfect storm of volunteers — a team of 300 enthusiastic employees from P. F. Chang’s. The restaurant chain’s employees assembled from across the country for its second annual corporate conference, and the group kicked off their time together volunteering at Give Kids The World Village.

The P. F. Chang’s group gathered in front of the House of Hearts and were welcomed to the Village by President and CEO Pamela Landwirth. The organization then divided into color-coded teams to tour the Village and see the families their work would benefit.

Lorrie Fickas, a group leader, asked her team to take a moment inside the Castle of Miracles as they learned about the golden stars decorating the ceiling, each representing a child who has visited the Village.

“It’s just amazing to look up there and realize the difference this place makes in so many lives,” she said.

The P. F. Chang’s group also made a great difference at the Village. The teams worked on projects including villa beautification, Bob’s Sparkleberry Nature Trail, creating pillows at the Castle of Miracles, creating entertainment props, cleaning gutters, power washing Inspiration Station, assembling airport bags, and cleaning the fences surrounding Matthew’s Boundless Playground.

The team left a positive, lasting impact at Give Kids The World Village through their time volunteering. Thank you to the P. F. Changs volunteers for all of their hard work!

Save the Date

Gingerbread Run

Gingerbread Run
Saturday, November 12, 2016

Give Kids The World’s signature race allows participants to walk, run or roll past a magical castle, a snoring tree, the world’s largest CANDY LAND game and more. The whimsical 5K celebrates the joys of childhood in a storybook setting. Learn more.


IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016
Sunday, November 13 – Friday, November 18, 2016

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions celebrates innovative theme park experiences at its annual conference. The organization supports Give Kids The World throughout the week with a charity golf tournament, motorcycle ride, charity walk/run and more. Learn more.

Gumbo Palooza

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The 6th Annual GumboPalooza is the one and only gumbo event benefiting Give Kids The World Village. Join in the fun with all-you-can-eat gumbo, and vote for the best dish! Learn more.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday
Monday, November 28, 2016

Share happiness that inspires hope this season with Give Kids The World holiday cards, featuring the artwork of talented wish kids, or their siblings — you can even have them personalized! Shop online on Cyber Monday to enjoy free standard, ground shipping on cards, ornaments and more. Learn more.

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

As you prepare to save on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, remember to give back and celebrate generosity with your friends, family and favorite charities. #GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. Learn more.


Thursday, January 5 – Sunday, January 8, 2017

When you register to run in the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend, you are raising money to fund dream vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses from all over the world. Make your miles matter by becoming a Run GKTW team member! Learn More

Hope in One

Hope In One Golf Tournament
May 1, 2017

Golden Bear Club in Windermere, FL hosts Give Kid’s The World’s golf tournament. Learn More


Black & White Gala
September 16, 2017

The 29th annual Give Kids The World Gala promises to be an evening of elegance, fine dining and world-class entertainment. Learn More

Give Kids The World Village