A couple of years ago I got to visit an extraordinary place. A serene, magical village living right here in the Orlando area. Magic, memories and smiles are being served sunrise to sunset and in some cases, lives are changing because of it. Where Happiness Inspires Hope.
What is this magical place we are speaking of? Give Kids the World Village
—a wish-fulfilling, fanciful, carefree retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their very deserving families. Give Kids The World Village is a 70-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions.Children and their families are treated to week long, cost-free fantasy vacations, complete with accommodations in the Village’s whimsical villas, donated attraction tickets, meals and much more.At the Village, these precious children learn that dreams really do come true, as they and their families are immersed in joy, hope and non-stop fun for a few unforgettably happy days—a most welcome escape from the weight of their challenging circumstances.
Did you catch that phrase “wish-fulfilling” up there? That is exactly what Give Kids the World is. When a child with a life threatening illness is granted a wish, and they wish to visit the Central Florida attractions, it is Give Kids the World that fulfills that wish. As soon as they step off the plane, Give Kids the World steps in and provides the wish families accommodations, meals, tickets to the local theme parks, nightly events that include Christmas on Thursdays, a Princess & Pirates Party on Friday, Halloween on Mondays and so much more.
Many people think that organizations like Make-a-Wish handle the whole process, but that just isn’t the case. Make-a-Wish and other wish granting organizations, do the vetting process. Once a child has gone through the application process and is determined to be eligible to receive a wish, (and wishes for a central Florida Vacation) then Make-a-Wish (or the other wish granting organizations) goes about contacting Give Kids the World to fulfill this wish.
That’s right, it is Give Kids the World Village that makes those Walt Disney World wishes come true. Today the Village is a 70-acre resort complete with 140 villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. On March 7, 2016 Give Kids the World Village will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary, or what they call “Founders Day”. On this day, they will be opening their new project, Banyan Park and there will be another 24 villas, which will allow for additional 1,248 more families to be served each year.
Anyways, back to my visit a couple of years ago. While touring the campus of Give Kids the World Village, we were walked through Amberville, where there is a little sports area for the families to visit while they are there.
At the time there were 4 or so NFL helmets for the families to take pictures with and that surprised me. I know that Kurt Warner is a huge supporter of Give Kids the World, so much so, that each year he personally funds wishes for 10 families, and he has donated helmets from the teams he has played on, but as of today there are still only 8 helmets in Amberville.
– Greenbay Packers – Oakland Raiders – Atlanta Falcons – Pittsburgh Steelers – Jacksonville Jaguars – Miami Dolphins – Indianapolis Colts – Dallas Cowboys –
Can you believe that is all they have? This amazing organization that goes out of there way to make sure the families staying there experience such a magical week, don’t have a full sports room with a helmet from each team so the families can take a photo with their favorite team. When we saw that they were lacking these, it was really placed on our hearts to try to do something about this.
So after many prayers, and a lot of discussions, we have decided we want to attempt to gather the rest of the NFL helmets to present to Give Kids the World for their 30th Anniversary. Over the course of the next 6 to 8 months we are going to attempt to drive to each of the stadiums to not only pick up a helmet, but to also help bring awareness to the Give Kids the World organization. There are 24 teams in 19 states that still need to be in the Amberville sports room.
Why am I telling all this? Well in order to do this we are going to need help. From contacting the football teams, getting the helmets donated, raising funds, getting sponsors…. you get the idea. We are asking for help to get this done for Give Kids the World, we are asking for help to get the helmets and to help us increase awareness about Give Kids the World. Are you interested in helping? Learn about all the ways you help us raise awareness and collect NFL helmets
We have started another website to blog this journey and to ask for help – Helmets4Hope.com
We look forward to going on this journey and sharing from the road.