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Give Kids The World Village News

A New Friendship Inspires Brailynn’s New ‘Do

Brailynn is 4 years old, loves to play in the snow and adores Rapunzel and Merida.

When she came to Give Kids The World Village in December 2016, she had her wish all planned out. She’d hit the theme parks and meet her favorite princesses, including the one with the legendary hair.


Princess Brailynn smiles with Ms. Merry and Mayor Clayton at GKTW and shows off her haircut.

But plans can get scrambled, and when Brailynn and her family arrived, they were greeted by soggy weather and changes in theme-park schedules. Still, Brailynn wouldn’t let rainy days dampen her spirit, so she spent extra time at the Village making friends.

That’s where she met Aimee.

While the two girls were getting to know each other, Aimee explained how her illness had caused her hair to fall out and how people sometimes donated hair to make wigs for sick children. Aimee’s story gave Brailynn an idea. She decided to donate her long blonde ponytail — called her “Rapunzel hair” by family members — to help another child’s wish come true.

"I asked Brailynn what would make this trip magical," said her grandmother Dixie. "She told me she wanted to donate her hair so another kid could feel like a princess."

The next day, Brailynn and her family headed to a nearby salon so Brailynn could get her hair cut. Dixie proudly took pictures of the experience before donating Brailynn’s golden ponytail.

Then it was off to the theme parks, where Brailynn enjoyed a magical day fit for a true princess.

“As you can expect, I was delighted that she would want to give back with such honor and selflessness,” Dixie said. Thank you for your kindness and inspiration, Brailynn!

Volunteer Pancake Breakfast

Over 200 volunteers celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Angel Pancake Breakfast.

7th Annual Angel Pancake Breakfast

Every day, Give Kids The World Village comes alive thanks to its volunteers. These Village champions create an unstoppable team that fills 1,600 shifts every week. With over 3.5 million volunteer hours in the books and counting, GKTW relies on the kindness of our hard-working supporters.

So what’s a great way to thank them for their time and talent? With one sweet breakfast!

On Valentine’s Day, Give Kids The World Village Volunteer Services hosted the 7th Annual Angel Pancake Breakfast. Volunteers of all ages filled Towne Hall’s Hoppening Place, which was bursting with pink and red decorations.

On most days, Village volunteers serve meals to — or create memorable moments for — visiting families. But the Pancake Breakfast was their chance to sit back and relax, while Give Kids The World staff members brought them breakfast and cleared tables.

“I loved having breakfast with my fellow volunteers and my very favorite bunnies,” said Mitzi Stevens, as she posed for a picture with Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry.

Mitzi was one of about 200 volunteers who came to eat, talk, and take photos with one another. As the breakfast wrapped up, volunteers thanked staff members for serving them and wished one another Happy Valentine’s Day.

"A big 'Thank You' from all the lucky volunteers attending the fun and special Valentine’s Day event,” Vicki McLaughlin wrote in an email to Director of Volunteer Services Beth Whitmire. "You and your entire team made every GKTW volunteer feel special and appreciated."

Become a GKTW volunteer

Corporate Volunteers

Savers volunteers at the Village this January.

Corporate Volunteer Teams Make a Difference at the Village

Corporate volunteer groups started the New Year off right for Give Kids The World Village, turning out in force to help the children and families we serve.

About 100 employees from Mars, Incorporated — best known for its chocolate and candies – spent a sweet afternoon at the Village, creating entertainment props and assembling supplies for arts and crafts.

Target brought a team of 50 volunteers to build props and prepare welcome bags for families arriving at Orlando International Airport. More than 300 General Electric employees also assembled welcome bags and Savers, a national thrift superstore that supports local nonprofits and communities in need, sent 300 volunteers to beautify villas, paint furniture, and spread mulch at Keaton’s Korral.

Meanwhile, a hardworking group of 634 Numotion employees joined us for an early and productive morning that dressed up almost every corner of the Village.

Numotion is the largest provider of wheelchairs in the United States, and the organization creates mobility technology and vehicles used by many families who visit the Village. Numotion employees appreciated that all our venues are fully accessible, especially the volunteers who use wheelchairs themselves.

Corporate volunteers play an enormous role in keeping Give Kids The World Village looking its best, and their help with props and supplies ensures every visiting family has a magical wish trip. Volunteer experiences are a great way to introduce the Village to hundreds of new potential supporters each year. We are proud to host their service hours and thank them for their support!

Dance Team Fundraiser

Kenzie hugs her cousin Brooke and smiles with the Millard High School dancers.

Dancing for Joy and Supporting GKTW

We’re always amazed at the clever ways our supporters raise money for the Village.

A high-school dance team from Omaha, for example, recently turned a practice performance into a fundraiser. Here’s how:

The Millard High School Dance team was preparing for the National Dance Team Championship at Walt Disney World Resort when a team mom suggested the idea of a fundraiser. Lindsay Peterson was familiar with Give Kids The World because members of her extended family stayed at the Village two years ago.

Her daughter’s dance team was scheduled to volunteer at the Village when it came to Orlando for its competition in February, so Lindsay thought a GKTW fundraiser was a perfect way to make an even bigger impact.

“My cousin and her family stayed there in December 2015,” Lindsay said. “Her daughter, Kenzie, is battling a relapse of Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, and her trip to GKTW was definitely a high point in all of their lives.”

Each year, the Millard High team performs with six others at an event that serves as a warm-up for the national competition. This year, the team suggested using the show as a way to collect donations for GKTW.

The simple strategy was a success! During intermission, the teams raised $2,506. Kenzie attended the fundraiser and smiled for pictures with the dancers. Millard North High School Dance Team members happily presented the check when they volunteered at the Village.

Said Lindsday, “Even though the volunteer hours and money raised are small, it just feels like something we can do to help.”

Thank you and congratulations to all of the teams for stepping up to support GKTW!


Pavers along the Avenue of Angels.

Pavers Leave a Lasting Mark on the Village

While it’s easy to be dazzled by the colorful, storybook buildings of Give Kids The World Village, there’s something far less showy but equally important going on underfoot.

Stretching from Towne Hall to Amberville Station, the Avenue of Angels is filled with paver stones personalized with the names of Village champions. These six-sided stones form the walkway that connects Village venues, creating a lasting legacy to the people of the Village.

For nearly twenty years, alumni families, volunteers, and supporters of GKTW have literally left their mark on the Avenue. The paving stones commemorate wish trips, Welcome Back visits, anniversaries, volunteer service, loved ones and more.

GKTW recently installed personalized paver stone number 10,500, but those pavers cover just a third of the space available. There’s still plenty of room to etch your name in stone on the Avenue of Angels.

Note: Pavers may be purchased through our online store. The purchase of a paving stone includes a certificate and copy of “The Gift of Life,” the autobiography of Founder Henri Landwirth. Your $200 dollar donation is tax deductible.

Visit the Gift Shop

Volunteer Noelle

Ashley and her family are all smiles after her cousin Noelle surprised them at GKTW.

Volunteer Noelle Creates a Special Surprise for her Family

Before wish kid Ashley and her family left snowy Maine for a week of sun and fun at Give Kids The World Village, she got some helpful advice from her cousin Noelle, a Central Florida resident and new Village volunteer.

When you get to the Village, Noelle insisted, go straight to the Castle of Miracles and the La Ti Da Spa. They’re full of surprises.

So when Ashley and her family reached Give Kids The World, off to the Castle she went, wondering what made it so special. What she didn’t know was that Noelle, working her first shift at the spa, was there waiting to greet her!

Noelle had arranged the special welcome with the Volunteer Services team, who was on hand to capture the moment.

“The family was beyond surprised, full of tears and overwhelmed by their welcome experience here at the Village,” said Volunteer Services Coordinator Antonio Roboostoff.

Ashley’s illness is what inspired Noelle to become involved with Give Kids The World Village. As a volunteer, she’s helped create special moments for dozens of families at the Village and lasting memories of her own.

“Volunteering at Give Kids The World Village is magical,” said Noelle. “There really is no place like it, and I loved being able to see it through Ashley’s eyes and be a part of her visit.”

Save the Date

H&R Block

H&R Block Tax Preparation
January 1 – April 30, 2017

You can support Give Kids The World Village by having H&R Block or Block Advisors prepare your taxes. If you’re a new client, H&R Block will donate $20 to the Village. You can find your closest office location at or

Hope in One

Give Kids The World Village Hope In One Celebrity Golf Classic, presented by Holiday Inn Club Vacations
May 1, 2017

Help us inspire hope in children, and make their dreams come true. Join us on May 1, 2017 at the Golden Bear Club at Keene’s Pointe in Windermere Florida for the inaugural Give Kids The World Village Hope In One Celebrity Golf Classic, presented by Holiday Inn Club Vacations.

There are a range of sponsorship opportunities available for the inaugural event, and we encourage you to learn more and support GKTW with one of our sponsorship packages.Learn More


2017 Give Kids The World Black & White Gala
September 16, 2017

Join us for an elegant evening full of fine dining and world-class entertainment. The Black & White Gala is a signature event celebrating and benefiting Give Kids The World Village. The evening will feature one of Central Florida’s most celebrated silent auctions and plenty of surprises. Learn More

Challenge for Hope

Challenge for Hope
November 11, 2017

Formerly known as the Gingerbread Run, GKTW’s signature race returns for its 9th year with a new name! Village volunteers, alumni families, supporters and friends will celebrate the happiness that has inspired hope for thousands of children and families at GKTW. Take on the challenge in the most exciting way. Walk, run, roll or stroll through a 5K that highlights the magic and experiences families enjoy at the Village during their cost-free vacations. Become a fundraising hero and learn more.


#runGKTW Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
January 4 – 8, 2018

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend celebrates its 25th anniversary next year! You can be part of the dazzling event and support Give Kids The World Village by joining team #runGKTW! Running with our team makes your miles matter for kids with life-threatening illnesses and makes memories for families at the Village.

Visit our website to read more about the different opportunities to join the #runGKTW team! Learn More

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