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Years ago, a young girl named Amy had leukemia, and what should have been decades of more time to grow and explore became a much shorter journey. In the midst of her battle, she had one wish — to go to the Orlando theme parks with her family. To arrange a complimentary trip, a local hotelier was contacted, who agreed to give the family a free stay, just as he had done for numerous other families in similar heartbreaking situations. However, the rest of the trip took too long to arrange, and Amy didn’t get to complete that wish with her family.

The hotelier didn’t want that to happen to another child, and the idea for Give Kids the World was born. Travel providers in Florida and beyond worked together so that critically-ill children and their families could be brought to the Orlando area with as little as 24-hour notice. They didn’t want red tape and funding challenges to result in another child like Amy running out of time to take a trip of a lifetime.

At first, Give Kids the World (GKTW) worked to place children and their families in area hotels, but as the program grew, they created a Village that was all their own.

(Photo courtesy of Give Kids the World)

Give Kids The World Village opened in 1989, and is now an 84-acre, nonprofit resort complete with 168 villa accommodations, attractions, restaurants, ice cream shops and events specifically designed for children aged 3-18 with critical illnesses. Over 156,000 families from all 50 states and around the world have stayed with GKTW to the tune of more than 8,000 families per year.

When a family stays with Give Kids the World, they don’t just get a place to sleep. The family’s weeklong dream trip is covered and includes:

  • Accommodations on-site in one of the Village’s fully-accessible villas
  • Donated tickets to all three major theme-park resorts (SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World)
  • From GKTW’s partner Walt Disney World, all wish families visiting Give Kids The World receive:
    • Three days of park hopper passes with photo pass included
    • Walt Disney World character meet-and-greets exclusive to wish families twice a week at Give Kids The World
  • Transportation
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner in the GKTW dining area, Café Clayton, along with ice cream available all day in The Ice Cream Palace
  • Many other fun surprises
(Photo courtesy of Give Kids the World)

So what’s all this have to do with TPG Family? That’s where you come in. The Points Guy and Mommy Points were both founded with the idea of helping others. At first, the goal was to help with booking award travel, but over the years, that desire to help has taken many forms both in and out of the world of travel.

With the advent of TPG Family comes a larger focus on not only family travel tips, but on families themselves. As we expand those resources, we’re honored to be able to help organizations that aid families who are in the fight for their lives. TPG is in the middle of a huge fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation (and you can win 1 million miles!), but in addition to supporting that amazing group, we are thrilled to announce a fun and rewarding way to support the efforts of their partner, Give Kids the World.

(Photo courtesy of Give Kids the World)

The Challenge: Ride Disney World Rides in One Day

If you hang around Disney World long enough, you’ll find all kinds of off-the-wall activities that the most enthusiastic Disney fans have dreamed up. One of those is a challenge to ride every single ride at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando in one day. That’s all four parks and all 49 rides in one calendar day. It’s called the Parkeology Challenge, and some Disney-diehards have actually competed this crazy idea. Now it’s my turn to try and ride 49 Disney World rides in one crazy, long, exciting day. And, I need your help.

We Need Your Help

My friend (and TPG Contributor) Ed Pizzarello and I aren’t just attempting the Parkelology Challenge because we’ve lost our minds (though we arguably have). We’re doing it to raise funds for Give Kids the World. If you want to egg on our insanity while supporting GKTW, you can make a donation for every ride that we complete. There’s nothing that will make us hustle faster from one ride to the next than knowing that families will benefit for every ride we check off the list.

No donation is too small — or too big — and it all goes directly to Give Kids the World. So if you’d like to donate $1 per ride and we accomplish all 49 rides, that would be $49 from you to GKTW. If 1,000 people did that, it would be $49,000 that goes directly to help families make positive memories in the middle of very challenging times. I’ll ask TPG himself to round it up to a nice pretty number, and we’ll be sure GKTW gets a big check from all of us.

(Photo courtesy of Give Kids the World)

The Result

We’re incredibly fortunate to have two healthy, growing girls, but life is unpredictable, and tomorrow it could be any of us who find ourselves doing anything and everything to help our kids get better — while helping them to stay positive and make some good memories during their fight.

A donation of $1 per ride could make a big difference as we support the mission of Give Kids the World — while likely making ourselves sick in the process — though any donation large or small is truly appreciated. Our big Ride-All-The-Rides Challenge at Disney World is coming up very soon on Sept. 26, and we’ll be Instagraming, live-Tweeting and Facebooking up a storm to share our progress, so we invite you to follow along.

How to Help

You can make an online pledge in advance of our crazy attempt to ride all the Disney World rides in one day. Don’t worry, you won’t be signed up for our mailing list or have your information sold in any way, shape or form. This will just allow us to keep a running tally of how close we are to achieving our goal. Give Kids The World will reach out to you when the time comes so they can turn your pledge into cost-free trips to Orlando for families facing medical crisis.

Thank you for helping us support families, and keep Give Kids the World in mind on your next trip to Orlando, as those 12 years of age and older can spend time volunteering at their Village.

Featured image by Vanessa Carvalho/Brazil Press Photo/LatinContent/Getty Images.

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