Give Kids the World Village
|Motto||Where Happiness Inspires Hope|
|Purpose||Resort for children with life threatening illnesses and their families|
|Board of Directors|
|$31.6 million US|
Give Kids The World Village is a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Florida for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The resort's focus is providing accommodations and access to donated theme park tickets. Families that visit Give Kids The World must be referred by one of over 250 wish-granting organizations or foundations, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The resort includes 168 villas on 79 acres. Eighty-eight of the villas were refurbished in a renovation as of 2014.
Give Kids The World was founded by Henri Landwirth, a Belgian Holocaust survivor who spent 5 years in the Auschwitz and Matthausen concentration camps. Landwirth immigrated to the United States, where he studied hotel management. While operating a hotel in the Orlando area, he became passionate about helping sick children fulfill their dream of a family vacation. Landwirth took to providing hotel accommodations for families of children with life-threatening illnesses who wanted to visit Walt Disney World and other nearby attractions and theme parks. After an incident in which two sick children had died before they were able to go on their trips, because hotel rooms were not available in time for them to stay in Orlando, Landwirth had an interest in creating a facility where travel arrangements could be made quickly with no waiting list and which would not turn away any child.
The Village has a whimsical theme. It features 168 family villa accommodations, the Gingerbread House Restaurant, the Castle of Miracles and its Enchanted Carousel, the Ice Cream Palace, Julie's Safari Theatre, Matthew's Boundless Playground, and other attractions and facilities for its guests. The Village is operated by a small professional staff augemented by thousands of volunteers each year. Roughly 1600 volunteer shifts are completed each week.
Every year, the Village welcomes more than 7,000 families from across the United States and 75 countries; in 2016, it welcomed its 150,000th family.
Children between the ages of 3 and 18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness by a licensed doctor are eligible for a GKTW wish. One of over 250 wish-granting organizations worldwide coordinates transportation to Central Florida, while Give Kids The World provides accommodations at its resort, meals for a week-long vacation, and donated admission tickets to local attractions including Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando Resort as well as other Central Florida attractions.
Tickets are also available for other attractions if requested. Busch Gardens in Tampa is one of the many places that can be requested. The location of the "Give Kids The World Village" is relatively close to most of the popular attractions. This is set up in a way so the families do not have to travel far. The child with a life-threatening illness is given a special badge with his or her name on it that grants access to shorter lines or the disability entrance to many of the parks.
The organization partners with corporations for volunteers, donations and in the case of Boston Market and Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, restaurants supplied with both food and volunteers inside the resort. Families are also provided a complimentary rental car courtesy of Avis Rent a Car during their stay which they pickup at the VIP counter at the Orlando airport. With the exception of certain souvenirs, there is no charge to the children or their families for rooms, food, ice cream, treats, transportation, activities, or anything else on site (known as being "Within The Village").
The organization's executive advisory board and board of directors includes author Ken Blanchard, former senator and astronaut John Glenn (prior to his passing), anthropologist Jane Goodall, actor John Stamos, and representatives from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Walmart, PepsiCo, Toys R Us, Perkins, InterContinental Hotels, Hasbro and Boston Market. Before his death, astronaut Scott Carpenter was also on the executive advisory board.
- "WGO Partner Information". gktw.org. Give Kids The World Village. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Kissimmee, Business Briefs Florida Trend March 2014
- Gonzales, Arturo (May 12, 1996). "Visitors Always Welcome at Give Kids the World". Ocala Star-Banner. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
- Smith, Steven Cole (May 16, 2011). "As long as there are dreams: Give Kids the World turns 25". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
- "volunteers". Give Kids the World. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
- "New Give Kids the World restaurant". Orlando Business Journal. February 5, 2009. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
- "Executive Advisory Board". gktw.org. Give Kids the World Village. Retrieved November 21, 2014.