Greetings, Region 1 Colleagues!
I have the exciting privilege of being part of the CPT for the 2014 ACUI conference in Orlando. When we first met as a team in Orlando last December, not only did we get to know each other and the fabulous JW Marriott facility, but we shared an incredible experience volunteering at Give Kids the World.
Give Kids the World is a resort for children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses and their families. It was founded by a hotelier who, about 25 years ago, got a letter from a little girl who said she was pretty sick and had a dream to visit Disney. She asked if she could stay at his hotel. He got busy calling all his friends at American Airlines, Perkins Restaurants, Disney, Hertz, etc. and finally, about three weeks later, called the little girl to tell her that she and her family could come to FL, all expenses paid. He was devastated to learn that the little girl had died during the time it took him to get all the details in place. He vowed not to let that happen again, so he started raising money and setting up a system so that he could respond to requests immediately. That’s how Give Kids the World was born.
It is now a 70 acre resort with 70 duplexes where 140 families can stay for a week at a time. Families are referred by Make a Wish or similar organizations. All their expenses are paid including airfare, rental car, housing, food, and tickets to the four major parks. Give Kids the World is a complete resort unto itself. It has the first pool in the US to accommodate wheelchairs. It has a restaurant, a movie theatre, chapel, and life size Candyland playground. It has an ice cream parlor that opens at 8 a.m. every day. There is a game “room” that is as big as many people’s houses complete with billiards, video games, radio controlled boats, and a train set that would fill our living room. Oh, and don’t forget the outdoor theater, train ride, and stream. Every Monday night they celebrate Halloween and every Thursday night is Christmas, complete with snow from their snow making machine.
They say that 93% of all money raised goes to help the kids; only 7% is for overhead. They only have 120 employees and rely on 1400 shifts of volunteers every week. They have a roster of 17,000 volunteers who volunteer on a regular basis. (The man who gave us our has volunteered once a week for 10 years.) They also have a list of 50,000 volunteers who have come once (like we did, for example) to give a few hours as part of a corporate event, or donate a day out of their vacation. It is such a joyous, beautiful place that it is easy to forget why it exists.
I share this with you to think about volunteering at Give Kids the World if you and your family should find yourself in Orlando. The CPT is also hoping that we can take groups of ACUI volunteers to Give Kids the World during the Orlando conference. Please consider this opportunity. You will never regret it!
Thanks for listening!
Assistant Dean for Campus Life, Castleton State College