About Give Kids The World
One of less than 1% of all U.S. charities to be rated Four Stars by Charity Navigator 15 years in a row, Give Kids The World Village is an 89-acre, whimsical nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides critically ill children and their families with magical weeklong wish vacations at no cost.
More than 30,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with a critical illness each year, and half of those who are eligible for a wish choose to visit Orlando. Give Kids The World is the nonprofit that fulfills all of these wishes – providing every child and his/her family with transportation; private villa accommodations; all meals and snacks; nightly entertainment; donated theme park tickets; daily gifts; and interactive experiences at the Village, a storybook destination all its own – featuring an array of accessible rides and attractions.
Give Kids The World was founded in 1986 by Belgium native Henri Landwirth, who survived five years in Nazi death camps during World War II, including Auschwitz. After immigrating to the U.S. and serving in the Army during the Korean War, Henri used the GI bill to study hotel management – beginning a 50-year career in the hotel industry and rising from bellman to owner.
As the owner of the first Holiday Inn located near Walt Disney World, Henri was often asked to provide complimentary accommodations to critically ill children who wished to visit the theme parks, and he always happily obliged. One day, Henri noticed that a reservation he had comp’d for the family of a little girl with leukemia named Amy had been canceled…and asked his staff why. When Henri found out that it had taken too long for the other parts of Amy’s trip to be arranged and she had passed away before being able to make the trip, he was beside himself. With a vow to never let another child’s wish go unfulfilled, Henri began soliciting support from friends and colleagues in the hospitality industry, and built a magical, whimsical nonprofit resort that can accommodate wishes within 24 hours if necessary.
Give Kids The World Village is a storybook destination like no other. Every aspect of the Village was designed with childlike wonder in mind. There are snoring trees; an enchanting castle housing the stars of every wish child who has visited; an array of accessible rides, including the world’s first-ever wheelchair accessible carousel; a jungle-themed theater; an accessible swimming pool and splash pad; horseback riding; a LEGO playroom; fishing; a nature trail and koi pond; an arcade; a dinosaur-themed miniature golf course; a space-themed accessible ice cream parlor; and much more.
Since 1986, more than 178,000 critically ill children and their families from all 50 states and 76 countries have been welcomed to Give Kids The World Village to laugh together, play together, and create unforgettable memories away from hospital stays and medical treatments – the impact of which is immeasurable.
Give Kids The World’s Mission
The mission of Give Kids the World is to provide families facing unimaginable challenges due to childhood illness with an opportunity to experience happiness, renew hope, and spend priceless time together creating unforgettable memories in a fairytale setting unlike any place on earth. A visit to the Village is much more than a vacation; it’s a magical week of “YES!” where wish children and their siblings can experience the simple joys of childhood, and where families can recapture many of the precious moments that may have been missed due to hospital stays and medical treatments. Away from the worry of illness and the stress of hospital bills, families are treated to an all-inclusive experience customized to their specific needs. In this magical place, Halloween and Christmas are celebrated every single week, along with the birthdays of all wish kids and siblings; every night is cause for celebration, featuring talent contests, pirates and princesses parties, character meet and greets, and dive-in movies; and ice cream is served from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm…including Give Kids The World’s most beloved tradition, Ice Cream For Breakfast! The Village is made possible by contributions from countless caring partners and individual donors, along with a passionate team of volunteers – who help orchestrate virtually every aspect of the Village. In a typical year pre-COVID, volunteers fill 1,800 volunteer shifts every week!
Meet Give Kids The World Assistant Director of Development Elise Boyles
Elise Boyles joined Give Kids The World two years ago after fulfilling the wishes of future brides and grooms as a wedding planner at Walt Disney World. As assistant director of development, Elise oversees fundraising events at the Village, including the annual Black & White Gala, Over The Edge, Night of a Million Lights, Gingerbread Run, DIS Con, and many more.
undraising events at the Village
When asked what her favorite thing about working at Give Kids The World is, Elise said, “I absolutely love being able to interact with our wish families, help create magical experiences for them, and host over-the-top, fantastical fundraising events that generate awareness and help us raise the funds we need to continue fulfilling wishes and changing lives.”
Partnering with Beacon Design
Give Kids The World takes a great deal of pride in partnering with companies and organizations like Beacon Design that share their devotion to children and families to create one-of-a-kind, elaborately decorated fundraising events designed to raise funds and engage the community. When it came to producing a unique gift for premium sponsors during its signature Black & White Gala, Give Kids The World worked with Beacon Design to create a high-quality custom ornament that reflects the whimsy and wonder of the Village. Working directly with the Village’s artistic designer, Beacon Design was able to incorporate many of the iconic venues and landmarks that make the Village so special – including the carousel, ice cream parlor and arcade.
“We are thrilled with the quality of the craftsmanship and the way Beacon Design connected with our mission,” said Elise. “Our guests were in awe when they saw these beautiful custom ornaments, which helped to bring the magic and mission of Give Kids The World to their homes and businesses. We truly appreciated the time and care Beacon Design took to get these sentimental keepsakes just right, while still meeting our budget and time constraints.”
In addition to being given out at Give Kids The World’s Black & White Gala, the custom ornament produced by Beacon Design was sold during the Village’s second annual Night of a Million Lights holiday fundraiser, where more than 100,000 guests enjoyed a dancing lights show; tram tours of decorated villas; a dazzling tree trail; a holiday marketplace featuring visits with Santa in his Florida home; and more holiday fun. The ornaments quickly sold out, with guests eager to take home a memento of what USA Today called the “Number One Thing To Do In December in Orlando” during the event’s inaugural year in 2020. “The ornament was a big revenue driver for us,” said Elise. “We are grateful to Beacon Design for being such a great partner and for helping to bring our vision for these treasured items to life.”