I love Disney, and I was rather upset when my parents broke the news to me that we could not go to Disney World for fall break. The very next day, my school’s campus minister announced in our morning assembly that an extra spot just opened up on his fall break mission trip team, and he needed someone to fill it. Since I was now free during this time, I decided to go, unaware of how it would change my life.
FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The trip was to Give Kids the World Village in Orlando, Florida. It is located just a few miles from Disney World and provides kids with life-threatening diseases the trip of a lifetime. When kids are given a wish from a wish foundation, most of them want to go to Disney. Instead of staying in a Disney hotel, children and their families are invited to stay at the magical land of Give Kids the World. Anyone who enters the village will fall in love with the property and the visiting families from all over the world.
I remember the first time I entered the property. I was working at the village’s cafe, and was nervous about meeting all the families, but my nerves were immediately subdued as my shift began. I remember two parents at a table with their small daughter. Their tired, grateful eyes met mine as I catered to their every need. Their eyes revealed the stress of the past few months spent in multiple hospitals with their daughter. They had been through so much, and I was determined that as long as I was there, they would not have to lift a finger. As my shift ended, a frantic mother came bolting into the cafe. She sobbed as she stated that she was in desperate need of applesauce. Through the tears, she explained that her daughter needed to take a certain medicine but the taste was so terrible that the only way that her daughter would swallow it was with applesauce. As one of my fellow volunteers went to search for applesauce, I comforted the mother. I could tell that her tears came not from the missing applesauce, but from the many months of wondering if her daughter would live through her disease. After handing her a lot of napkins to dry her eyes, she told me her family had arrived only a few hours prior. She had not yet experienced the healing power of Give Kids the World. As someone came out with a gallon jar of applesauce, the mother looked at it like it was the world’s most precious gem. We got countless hugs, thanks, and tears as the mother left the cafe. To this day, I still remember her.
Although I thought this trip would just be something fun to do with my friends over fall break, it became so much more than that. The tired eyes of the parents and the radiant smiles of the children at Give Kids the World made sure of that. I’ve had a few family members who have died of cancer and a couple of friends who are in and out of the hospital because of life-threatening diseases. When I volunteer, I see their faces on each child. They’ve known pain all their lives, and all I want to do is relieve it. Many children who were not expected to live much longer leave Give Kids as a healthy child. Miracles happen everyday, and all I want is to be a part of that and take as many people along with me as possible.
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