Our family just returned from Give Kids the World Village (GKTW). When you offer a wish to my 5-year-old, who spent the majority of the last year in the hospital, she will always choose Disney. And choose she did! Reese was granted this “WISH” through the Make-A-Wish foundation, and her journey took us to GKTW.
I have been to Disney many times and I never knew that GKTW existed. I assume many of you didn’t also, so I’ll tell you a little bit about the history of this extraordinary place. GKTW is a resort just off the official Disney grounds for children with “critical illnesses” and their families. The resort provides free accommodations and access to all theme park tickets. Families that visit GKTW must be referred by one of over 250 wish-granting organizations or foundations, the largest being Make-A-Wish.
Not only do these kids have access to all of the theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Universal, and Sea World) but they get special passes to go to the front of the line on rides (at Disney this is called a “Genie Pass”.) Many of the Wish kids struggle with fatigue and other stressors that make this a big benefit of GKTW.
GKTW was founded by a Holocaust survivor named Henri Landwirth who spent 5 years in concentration camps. He eventually immigrated to the US where he learned hotel management in Orlando and became passionate about helping sick children fulfill their dream of having a family vacation. This idea grew and grew into the 84-acre resort with 166 villas. Over 7,000 families visit yearly.
I have made a video highlighting Give Kids the World. The video isn’t Reese’s whole trip, it is centered around GKTW and the incredible charitable organization that makes this available for all critically ill children. Most of the resort is run by volunteers. Yes, you read that right! I met the most incredible group of girls from Massachusetts, they belong to the Make-A-Wish club at their high school, and they flew down for the week to volunteer. This is something that definitely interests my family, someday.
GKTW is a destination in and of itself, as you will see from the video. We send the most heartfelt thank you to this incredible organization. (More to come on the rest of Reese’s magical trip at a later time!)
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