On February 9, 2018, I’m going over the edge. Literally!
I am rappelling 428 feet straight down (32 stories) the side of the Hyatt Regency Orlando hotel to raise money and awareness for an amazing charity that benefits critically ill children and their families; Give Kids the World.
I’m looking for people to sponsor me in any amount to reach my goal of raising $5,000.
Having never rappelled before, I'm a more than a bit nervous! However, this is nothing compared to what the children and families that will benefit from this fundraiser feel daily.
I first learned of Give Kids the World after a friend shared her experience with me. A little girl she was very close with was critically ill and faced hospitals, testing and appointments every single day. This child was granted a wish through one of the many wish organizations (Make a Wish, Children’s Miracle Network, Wishes Fulfilled, etc.). Her wish was much the same as any other young child; to visit the wonderful world of make-believe and happiness found in Orlando, FL with her family.
Every year, team members from My Mickey Vacation Travel meet for our annual training. Three years ago, we decided to volunteer a day at Give Kids the World while in Orlando. In line with our Core Values, we really wanted to give back and felt this was a great way to do so.
Honestly, there was a part of me that was hesitant. In my mind, the thought of seeing so many critically ill children who deal with medical crisis daily was disheartening and sad. Was there really anything I could do to make a difference?
To give us a better understanding of how Give Kids the World operates, Karen Stoner, owner of MMVT and her husband Jeff, our operations manager, arranged a tour prior to our volunteer shifts. To not disrupt the guests, we arrived very early for our tour when the “active areas” would be vacant.
As our bus of 30 volunteers pulled into the 48 acre compound, we felt as if we had driven onto the real-life version of Candy Land!
Brightly colored buildings, full sized fantasy plants, a carousal and a life-sized talking tree were some of the first features we noticed.
Our tour guide greeted us and immediately informed us after the tour we would have the choice to wash the brightly decorated golf carts and little cars used on property to transport guests or clean up around the pools and water park areas.
As the tour progressed and we learned the history of Give Kids the World, everyone was impressed. Our tour lasted over an hour as we toured much of the property. GKTW takes guest privacy, enjoyment and relaxation very seriously so we viewed the cottages from the opposite side of the street so as not to disturb any of the families.
Some of the things we learned: GKTW grants wishes that include a 100% no-cost vacation to recipients. This means all food, lodging, transportation, entry into parks and amenities at the GKTW property are a true gift to these families. On hand are thousands of volunteers dedicated to enhancing this respite for families. We saw volunteers in the gift shops, arcade, operating the carousal, a local petting zoo who brought in their ponies (just to make the kids smile!), in the dining hall, at the ice cream shop, pool area and so many more!
As the children and their families began their day, we couldn’t believe what we saw…huge smiles, laughter and families simply enjoying each other. Children in wheelchairs having fun at the mini-water park with their able-bodied siblings, riding the train together, air hockey matches and so much more. For one week, they had no worries, no doctors, no hospitals, simply a focus to do what many of us take for granted: enjoy a simple vacation and make lasting memories.
Give Kids the World is a 100% non-profit organization. Over 93% of all proceeds go directly to the charity, so administrative costs and advertising are kept to a true minimum. GKTW is also one of the highest rated charities in the nation.
100% all donations made through my link go directly to GKTW and you will be emailed an immediate receipt from them.
Thank you so much for your support. You truly are making a difference in the life of a critically ill child and their family!
To learn more (and there is SO much more than what I have here), please visit their website at gktw.org.
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