We’re raising money for Give Kids The World Village!
This nonprofit “storybook” resort provides free vacations to critically ill children and their families – vacations that create happiness and hope when these families need it most.
For one week, children and families can set aside doctor appointments and medical treatments to laugh, play and simply spend time together – at the Village and at Central Florida’s world-class theme parks.
Thank you for supporting this important community. We are running this in honor of Amanda Starr. Please read her story below as told by her mother and see the impact that this wonderful resort had on her and her family. Give Kids the World has impacted so many deserving families and can only continue to do so with the support of the community.
A note from Amanda’s mother:
My daughter Amanda Starr was born a healthy, happy, beautiful baby girl until at eight months old the unthinkable, the unimaginable happened. Mandy was assaulted by her babysitter leaving her a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome with a secondary spinal injury from being slammed down on her bottom so hard that it partially severed the base of her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. For my beautiful Mandy Starr every day after that was a painful struggle that she fought and persevered through, even breathing unassisted was a battle. Wheelchair bound, blind and unable to eat without a feeding tube she fought those battles everyday and by her side always were her loving and devoted sisters Mia Jeanne and Autumn Rose.
By the time Amanda was five she had regained the ability to smile, laugh and make some verbal sounds. Amanda loved music and listening and watching the Disney Channel (we knew she was partially blind, her optic nerves were damaged due to the severe brain swelling when she was shaken) but she was becoming more and more medically fragile. Bouts of pneumonia every winter were taking there toll and after a particularly difficult spring pneumonia I asked for a wish on her behalf, to take her to Disney to meet Mickey Mouse.
I met with a wish granter from the Make A Wish Foundation and was told that Amanda's sisters would be accompanying her to Disney and that we would be staying in a child’s dream village called "Give Kids the World." Shortly after we began planning Mandy Starr's wish I learned we would be having a fourth daughter and almost postponed our trip but I feared the winters and decided against it.
Our journey began with a limousine ride to South Station in Boston on to a 26 hour train ride in a sleeper car (Amanda was unable to fly due to her breathing difficulties and closed head injury) and at journeys end when we finally arrived at Give Kids the World it was everything we were told and more. Amanda and her sisters were treated like princesses and lavished with gifts every day. Barriers that were so frustrating in the world didn't exist. From the magical mushroom carosel that we could push her wheelchair right into one of the cars so she could ride just like the other children to the handicapped accessable pool complete with ramp and submersible wheelchair. The animated trashcans that thanked the children everytime they threw something away, the magic mirror, the all you can eat ice cream sundae bar, the arcade that never needed a token or quarter, the enchanted forest room,
the doll house dining hall with hundreds of dolls from all over the world, the character breakfasts, pictures with favorite Disney characters and so much more are all things offered and available to not just wish children but wish families to make it a place of happiness, magic and laughter. Although the trip was hard on Mandy's fragile little body it was an experience filled with joy for her.
Not even five months after returning home from her great adventure Amanda Starr lost her final battle. On July 3rd she slipped quietly away in our livingroom surrounded by love. Her three devoted sisters were heartbroken and devastated. These girls who patiently sat through too long car rides to hospitals in Boston, doctors waiting rooms, therapy appointments and days on end without thier mom when Mandy was in the hospital and I could not get home to them now had to deal with a crushing loss. It is important for me to tell this part of the story because Give Kids the World and the Make a Wish Foundation didn't just provide one wish to a very deserving little girl, it provided happy memories for three others to hold onto in a time when there were too few happy memories, for a lifetime.