Okay, am I emotionally ready to write about this?
Give Kids the World was absolutely incredible. Amazing little touches everywhere. Loving volunteers everywhere. It was such a heart-full time, one that I wish every person could experience. But there's only one way you can stay at the Give Kids the World, and that is to be a child with a life-threatening illness, or the family of that child. And that's an experience I wish no one would ever have to have.
So, I tell you what. I'll share our days with you and then you can go volunteer there or send some money or tell someone about it. No need to go through the qualifying experience.
A big van came and picked us up at our house. 15 minutes early, I might add. Go, monkeys, go go go!
We got to the airport, did the security thing, then went to breakfast. Did you know you can get any type of food at the airport at 9 am? The kids wanted pizza. And cokes. For breakfast. And thus, we went down the rabbit hole ...
The flight was uneventful, other than the fact that every single seat was filled and it was a certain airline that does "first come, first served" seating. Luckily, we were allowed to be some of the first to board.
We're in Orlando, we're in Orlando! I'm already verklempt ... when we were in the hospital, I put posters up around the room with LW's favorite characters, many of whom were Disney. And we talked about going to Disney World someday. And meeting Mickey Mouse. And Pooh. And Cinderella. And then after we come past security, I see this:
And I promptly burst into tears.
Thankfully, the volunteer from Give Kids the World is used to it. She already has two carts for our luggage and leads us first to baggage claim, and then to get the rent car that GKTW has arranged for us to have for the week. She gives us clear directions on how to get to GKTW and says, "See you soon!"
(Warning: if you are shy of tears, just leave right now. Really. I beg you. Because I was pretty soggy the entire trip.)
We drive to Give Kids the World, and go into the House of Hearts to check in. They promptly hand LW a talking Mickey Mouse and a stuffed Shamu to each of her siblings. And tshirts in their sizes.
We sit down with a coordinator to get the basic info, and the children begin wandering around. They look up at the ceiling ...
For a kid, magic. Everywhere.
The kids pile onto a golf cart, giddy with pleasure, and we follow in the rent van. A volunteer shows us to our villa. Every family gets their own 2 bedroom villa, with a huge bathroom for the children (and a regular one for the parents), living room, kitchen already stocked with drinks and snacks, and a gift bag on the kitchen table, stuffed with toys and goodies for the kids.
We're right across from Matthew's Boundless Playground. Brightly colored, covered with sail-type tarps to protect from the sun, and featuring a life-size version of Candyland.
Every little touch is carefully thought about, with how it will affect the children. Light switches are down low, so the kids can reach them. There's a trash receptacle shaped like an elephant with a vacuum inside to suck up paper. There's a giant tree that snores. The Castle of Miracles is filled with what look like drawers that make noise when you pull their handles. In the enchanted forest (inside the Castle), there are little windows here and there -- peek in, and you'll spot a teeny vignette, like a frog at home in his parlor.
Oh, here. I'll show you.