When I was a child, I spent a lot of time in the hospital. Most years, I lost at least a month, often more, to hospital stays. I was never critically ill, as my condition was entirely eye related, but I both knew the toll that sort of thing can take and met a lot of other children who were far more critically ill than I was.
I think that’s why Give Kids The World strikes such a chord with me.
What is Give Kids The World
There are many charity organisations out there, such as The Children’s Wish Foundation, Make A Wish and the like, whose purpose is to grant the wishes of critically ill children. Roughly half of those who make such a wish choose a Florida vacation for that wish.
Enter Henry Landwirth and a little girl named Amy. Henry was a hotelier in Florida who was contacted to grant the wish of a little girl with leukemia named Amy, who wanted to visit the Florida themeparks. Though Henry agreed to provide the accommodations, the rest of the funds took too long to raise, and Amy sadly passed away before her wish could come true.
Henry never wanted this to happen again. At first, he partnered with a number of other local hoteliers to provide accommodations for families, sometimes in as little as 24 hours, but as the number of families increased, Henry realized that what they needed was a resort entirely dedicated to the needs of the sick kids and their families.
The Give Kids The World Village opened in 1989 thanks to Henry. Initially 31 acres, it has grown over the years to its current size of 84 acres with 166 villas for families.
Give Kids The World provides critically ill children and their families cost-free, week-long vacations in central Florida that includes accommodations, food, themepark tickets and on-site entertainment. It even has a few small, fully accessible rides and round the clock icecream.
GKTW is not an offshoot of any one wish-granting foundation, but is instead an independant entity that partners with foundations from around the world, helping families from not only the US but 76 other countries.
Why It Matters
So why support a foundation to give vacations, rather than one looking for cures for some of the critical conditions? Finding cures is important. Of course it is. But what about those kids out there who are suffering right now?
The cost of medical care is, for many, exceedingly high. That doesn’t leave space for most families to do something fun. Moreover, for some of these kids time is short. For others, much of their childhood is centered around dire situations, giving them no time to have fun as most children get to. That last part, I understand.
So we have families with no extra funds on hand, and children and parents whose lives are full of stress. Stress that can often make conditions worse. And for some, little time left to form happy memories.
That’s why Give Kids The World matters to me. For a week, these children and their families get to escape to a place of fun and magic. There, they are treated like royalty, fully supported emotionally and medically, and can just focus on something positive. That can make all the difference in the world.
I have spoken to people who were part of a wish, both as the sick child and as the family of the sick child, and the stories of what it was like amaze me.
How You Can Help
Obviously, financial help is both always needed and always welcome. If you wish to donate directly, go to https://www.gktw.org/help/give.php for more information.
If you just don’t have the finances, though, there are other ways you can help. Raising awareness is obviously one of those ways, which is why I’m writing this post. The more people who know about this wonderful charity, the better.
Give Kids The World Village is largely run by volunteers. And you don’t have to be a local to help out, though locals are certainly welcome. You could give up one day of your own Florida vacation to, or even make an entire vacation out of, volunteering at the village. If this interests you, check out https://www.gktw.org/volunteer/index.php for info for both US and international volunteers.
Finally, there is fundraising. You can help to organise a fundraiser in your company, school or other group, or else start an online fundraiser. In fact, a fundraiser is what initially introduced me to this wonderful community a few years back, and I have hosted my own small fundraising thing for my most recent birthday. If you want to know more, check out https://www.gktw.org/help/fundraise.php for information.
For general information, including how to apply as a family, little facts that I couldn’t work into this, pictures of the village and the like, go to https://www.gktw.org/index.php
And please consider giving some of your time and money towards making the dreams of critically ill children come true.