Last year I attended the Give Kids the World Blogger Bash for the first time. It was an amazing event and when/where I fell head over heals in love with this amazing place. Since then I’ve participated in the Gingerbread Run 5k fundraiser, volunteered at GKTW, and hosted two fundraisers at Alex and Ani in Winter Park. GKTW grabbed ahold of my heart that day and isn’t letting go!
This year GKTW Blogger Bash happened to fall on a weekend that my mom would be in town for a belated birthday Staycation. I told her about the event and how I’d love to attend and show her why GKTW means so much to me. So after checking into our hotel on Saturday, we braved the rain and headed out to GKTW Village for the event.
The bulk of this year’s event took place in the brand new Towne Hall. The 53,000 square foot building set adjacent to a Gingerbread House, the Enchanted Carousel and the Castle of Miracles. The new “Towne Hall” houses evening entertainment events, a food court, meeting facilities, a gathering hall, and staff offices. It is amazing!
The event started with a panel discussion featuring PR and advertising firm execs who spoke about brand and charity support. What did I learn? PR companies and brands DO notice if you have a philanthropic element to your blog. So keep up the charity work folks!
After the panel discussion we were all invited over to the food court to grab some dinner. This amazing new food court has four stations that are sponsored by Boston Market, Papa John’s Pizza, and Perkins. I hadn’t had Boston Market in a long time so I decided to go with a meal of comfort food – meatloaf, mac-n-cheese, green beans, and corn bread. It was so yummy! And honestly, how can anyone pass up their mac-n-cheese?
We all took our food back to the meeting room and enjoyed a short presentation about GKTW from Pam Landwirth. Pam has been involved with GKTW since 1992 and was appointed President in 1995. You only have to hear her speak for a few minutes to see that she is so very passionate about GKTW and the work they do there.
Pam also shared the new #GKTWChallenge with everyone there. Seven-year-old Ethan challenged Kevin Bacon to see who could eat the most ice cream in six seconds, with the loser donating six dollars to Give Kids The World Village. Why six dollars, and why six seconds? Because everyone in the world is connected to a child with a life-threatening illness by six degrees or less. That includes kids like Ethan. You can check out the video of Ethan and Kevin here, its totally worth a watch.
After dinner the rain had FINALLY let up and we were able to go on tours of the village. I’d been on the tour a few times before, but this was what I really wanted my mom to see. It only took one stop for my mom to see why I felt so strongly about GKTW. Our first stop was the Castle of Miracles. When each child arrives at GKTW they are given a gold star to write their name on. While they are out enjoying their day, a star fairy takes the star and places it on the ceiling in the Castle of Miracles. The ceiling is covered in stars from all the children then have come to GKTW over the last almost 30 years. Families are given a passport that shows where the star is so that they can come back and see it in the future. Every time I walk in that building it is so emotional. Just standing there explaining it to my mom had me in tears. Its such an amazing place.
On the tour we stopped by the Ice Cream Palace, Amberville, Marc’s Dino-Putt, Julie’s Safari Theater, and the Gallery of Hope. There are so many amazing things for the families at GKTW village. Not only do they have the opportunity to go to SIX amazing theme parks, they are provided with a beautiful villa to stay in, all their meals, family activities, and so much more. GKTW truly is an amazing place where families of children with life-threatening illnesses can just be a family for a week. It gives them the chance to grant a sick child’s wish and to enjoy time together away from hospitals, doctors, and illness.
If you would like more information about donating, volunteering at GKTW, or the #GKTWChallenge, please visit their website.