I recently received a guest post from Zachary Fakterowitz of Coaster-Net.com about the upcoming benefit for Give Kids The World hosted by Cedar Fair parks across the country. The event is called Coasting For Kids and it is one of those things in life that is all too easy to miss but one which will enrich your life and the life of a child in need if you'll just give a few moments of your time to read below. We'll let you know how you can get involved or make a donation. This is a story which will warm your hart.
Give Kids The World Village is a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Florida for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Wish Children and their family members are given a weeklong all expenses paid vacation in Orlando.
Give Kids The World allows those children and their families to escape from a very sad and depressing situation and allow them to make good memories together that will last a lifetime for the parents and the children! While in Orlando the families have a chance to visit the parks (free of charge) and stay at the Give Kids The World Village, which is a special resort created for these wish children.
Give Kids the World has touched the lives of over 85,000 children and their families since the Village was started in 1989. Give Kids the World is heavily supported by many major amusement park companies including the Walt Disney Company, Universal Parks and Resorts, Cedar Fair, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. In addition, Theme Park Industry organizations such as IAAPA (The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) along with other companies such as Walmart, Hasbro and Mears. The list of sponsors for Give Kids the World stretches over 2 pages! These companies supply the Give Kids The World Village with not only finical resources but with volunteers too, many Theme Park employees (including executives) regularly help out at Give Kids the World! Through these contributions Give Kids the World will welcome approximately 7,000 families this year.
On June 10th, an event called Coasting For Kids will be held at all the Cedar Fair Parks around the US. This event sponsored by Cedar Fair is a way for Coaster Enthusiasts to help Give Kids The World by simply riding Coasters to raise money(more on how YOU can help at the end of the article). You can also raise money by participating as a “Virtual Rider.” Give Kids The World has been recognized as the #1 most fiscally responsible charity. Over 93% of all money taken in by the charity goes directly to the program itself. (This is a number well above the national average!) So you can rest assured that your money is going towards a great cause!
My hope is that Miceage/Micechat readers will come out and support this great cause! You can create your own team or join our team (Coaster-net/Theme Park Coaster Club) in raising money during the Coasting For Kids event. To sign up you can visit 2012 Coasting for Kids benefiting Give Kids The World and follow the instructions there. You do not have to be a member of Coaster-net or Theme Park Coaster Club to join our team and the top fundraiser for the Coaster-net/Theme Park Coaster Club will win a Give Kids The World Shirt courtesy of our friends at Give Kids The World. MiceChat Moderator, Sir Clinksalot has also created a team. His page is located here: Coasting For Kids at Knott's Berry Farm
Now that the information is out of the way, today I’d like to share a few pictures with you of a recent tour I went on of the Give Kids The World Village. The tour was given by Kara Dhuse. Kara is not only the Communications Specialist at Give Kids the World but also a fellow Coaster Enthusiast and a former marketing director for Cedar Fair parks. My goal was to document the Village to show our readers at Coaster-net what Give Kids The World is. We are sharing this story with other sites (Such as Miceage/Micechat) to raise more awareness of what this great charity does!
This report is different from our report on Coaster-net.com. So if you are interested in seeing even more photos and more information you can read that article at this link: What Give Kids The World is and how YOU can make a difference with Coasting For Kids! -> COASTER-net.com: Amusement Park and Roller Coaster News, Information, Photographs, & more!
The Village is very large and occupies over 70 acres. The atmosphere is very Theme park like. In fact many Theme park design companies helped design faculties for the Village.
Our first stop is Amberville, the recreation centerAmberville is surrounded by a miniature railroad (built by Zamperla), this area was named for a wish child who loved trains. Inside Amberville you’ll find gaming rooms, arcade games and a large miniature train set. All of the arcade games are playable free of charge to wish children.
Behind Amberville is Marc’s Dinoputt, a seven hole miniature golf course designed by Universal Creative. The course is completely wheelchair assessable and themed to friendly Dinosaurs. There are many interactive elements for guests to interact with on the course. Universal also donated a Dinosaur figure that was used in the filming of the Jurassic Park movies with the intention of placing it on the course; however, it was decided it might be scary for the children. So, the Dinosaur was re-purposed. Today, the Dinosaur sits hidden in the lush landscaping surrounding the course; you can spot him if you know where to look!
Food is an important part of the Village, with companies such as Perkins, Boston Market and Unilever donating time to provide delicious meals for wish children and their families. The most popular food location is the Ice Cream Palace. Starting at 7am every morning, volunteers set out to “scoop some happiness”. Children and their families can have Ice Cream whenever they want. The Ice Cream Palace features not only classic flavors, but also allergy friendly offerings like Soy and Rice Ice Cream. As you can imagine this place is very popular!
Every Resort in Florida must have a pool (I think there is a law somewhere about this). Give Kids The World has an awesome pool complex. On one side of the complex is a zero-entry pool which means kids can walk right into it (the pool gradually gets deeper, its similar to entering the ocean from a beach). The zero-entry means that children that can’t walk are able to enjoy it. (Children with mobility disabilities are able to enter the pool using special wheelchairs that can be submerged in water.) Like the the other opportunities at Give Kids The World this gives the kids the chance to participate in an activity they may have never gotten too before!
Also within the pool complex is a large water play area. This is a very very wet area to walk by. The water play area is accessible to allow for everyone to be able to play within it.
Matthew’s Boundless Playground is a playground themed to Candyland. Whats great about this playground is that it allows children to play on a playground regardless of whether they have a disability or not. Even Kids on Wheelchairs are able to get up to the top of the play structure (Similar to what you may see in a local park, with the exception of the Wheelchair accessibility feature). For many families with siblings this playground allows them a chance to get to play together with their brother or sister for the first time!
Wish children and their families stay in one of over 140 unique Villas in the Village. The villas aim to create an enjoyable and fun place the kids want to return to at night(because, let’s be honest who really likes leaving a Theme Park after a fun day?). Some Villas have a storybook village theme, while others represent different architectural styles found around the world.
The heart of Give Kids The World can be found at the Castle of Miracles. The exterior is very fanciful. The Mushroom jutting out from the side houses a Carousel.
The interior of the Castle of Miracles is adorned with over 85,000 Stars. Each Wish Child writes their name upon a star during the stay at Give Kids The World. In the middle of the night the “Star Fairy” places the Star on the celling of the Castle (which has to expand every so often to accommodate all of the stars). After their child passes, parents will often travel extreme distances to come to Give Kids The World just to see their child’s star. The Star represents for those families a shining and bright memory of their child. To me this is the essence of Give Kids The World and what it stands for: Where Happiness Inspires Hope.
You CAN make a difference in the life of a child in need. What a wonderful facility and a great event.