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PTR: Give Kids The World tour and the Pepsi Refresh Project

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I've been meaning to share with you all an in-depth look at the wonderful nonprofit we all know and love-- and also the magical place I work for-- for some time now. I may be guilty of holding off for the past couple of months because I knew this awesome opportunity was in the works, but now the time has come and I need your help!


Starting today, GKTW is up for a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Program. The winners are based solely on online voting. For the $250,000 range, the top two refresh ideas will each receive grant money! If you could help spread the word to vote once a day, every day in June I would really appreciate it. Click here to register before voting.


Here's how to vote:


1) Visit www.refresheverything.com/givekidstheworld and click the "Vote for this idea" button.

2) A pop up window will appear where you will enter your information and sign in.

3) After signing in, you will be taken back to the Give Kids The World page. Click "Vote for this idea" to submit your vote.

4) Tell your friends, family and colleagues to "Vote 2 Refresh" GKTW.

5) Repeat once a day, every day until June 30.


For those of you not familiar, Give Kids The World Village is a magical 70-acre, nonprofit resort in Central Florida. We work with over 250 Wish Granting Organizations around the world to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions and to enjoy the magic of GKTW Village. If you would like to read about my personal experience as an employee or donate via online giving, please visit my fundraising page. Now, on to the tour! Photos taken and sized by the lovely and talented Steve Nuss.


Welcome to GKTW!


The "House of Hearts" Welcome Center where families begin their stay with us by checking-in and receiving lots of cool stuff!


The front desk, staffed 24 hours a day


I LOVE the clouds and lighting in the HOH-- it definitely sets the tone for the magical week ahead for the families


After check-in, the families are escorted to their villa. The Wish Child's last name is displayed on this sign, proclaiming it as their own personal home for the week.


The Village's loveable mascot, Mayor Clayton, welcomes the families home


Outside each villa is a set of rocking chairs for the families to relax and enjoy the lovely FL weather!


Inside one of the "Phase 2" Villas. The living room has a fold-out couch.


All meals are provided throughout their stay, but the full-sized kitchen is also stocked with goodies


A gift bag awaits the families when they first arrive. Our gift-giving volunteers also sneak into the villas each day and bring even more presents to all of the family members (not just the Wish Child)


At GKTW the roles are reversed and the kids' bathroom is the large one...oftentimes leaving the parents to "ask permission" to use the awesome tub!


The kids' bathroom also features a roll-in shower...


...as well as a wheelchair accessible sink and vanity


The kids' room has two beds, as well as a roll-out bed and crib to be used as needed


The parents' room has a king size bed


The "Fairytale Forest" section of the Village-- these villas were built in 2009 and feature some really colorful designs!


Along with the Fairytale Forest expansion came Matthew's Boundless Playground


The entire play area is wheelchair accessible so that children of all ages and abilities can enjoy it; MBP is also home to the World's Largest CANDY LAND game, which is played every Sunday evening


Volunteers staff this cart which can be called to your villa for curbside continental breakfast and also functions as the "Cookie Cart" in the afternoons


The Gingerbread House Restaurant serves hot breakfast in the morning and a yummy dinner at night


Perkins is the supplier of most of this food-- so always drop money in the coinboxes at their restaurants


The GBH is home to thousands of dolls and favorite toys left by the families. It also has child-size seating and tables made with real peppermint candies.


Ol' Elmer, a large, snoring tree, adds a touch of whimsy to the Village


The Park of Dreams pool and water play area was completed this past March


The new pool is a favorite among parents and children


The pool features a zero-depth entry so that children can transfer into the specially-designed water wheelchairs and have fun splashing around


The interactive water garden is also wheelchair accessible


The "Serendipity" ship not only adds fun to the area, but also functions as a stage for some of the Village's nightly entertainment


The Castle of Miracles is my favorite Village Venue, featuring a wheelchair accessible carousel


More of the Castle's exterior


What castle would be complete without a large, squeaky wooden door and a knight in shining armor welcoming you?


The castle sky is filled with stars featuring the names of each of our very special Wish Children who have stayed with us. Only the Wish Child gets to customize a star. They leave it for the Star Fairy to place up into the sky, where it will shine brightly forever. It's truly overwhelming how many stars we have!


The Castle is also home to the La-Ti-Da Spa, sponsored by Hasbro


The adorable "waiting area" where girls can decide to get their makeup or nails done and boys can pick out a cool airbrush tattoo


The Ice Cream Palace serves ice cream & milkshakes all day long-- even for breakfast! Families can also pick up an "Express Start" breakfast sponsored by IHG/Holiday Inn hotels before heading off to the parks each morning


Katie's Kitchen is sponsored by Boston Market and features delicious meals for lunch and dinner. Families can either pick up their order at the window, or have it delivered to their villa


The non-denominational chapel is another personal favorite of mine


Inside the chapel, home to weddings of volunteers, staff and former Wish Children!


The chapel is always stocked with journals where visiting families write their thoughts and prayers-- one flip through the pages can turn any bad day around


Amberville Train Station is full of fun and games


Marc's Dino Putt is a 7-hole, wheelchair accessible course sponsored by Universal


Each hole is interactive, with all sorts of suprises...here the dinosaurs spit water at you


My favorite (and the most challenging) hole, inside the volcano!


This guy was a prop used by Universal for the movie


This friendly t-rex pops out of the bushes on the last hole


Obligatory giraffe photo


A large model train set features low-to-the-ground buttons where kids can trigger the action


A close-up of the train set


I can't go in Amberville without pushing the Yeti button


Remote controlled boats are also a highlight. Not pictured is the kiddie train that circles the station (it's not a credit ).


Looking down the "Avenue of Angels" from Amberville; this walkway is where most of the venues are and is filled with pavers featuring the names of donors, Wish Children, etc.


Julie's Safari Theatre...lots of Village Entertainment takes place in this theatre with a fully accessible stage and complimentary concession stand


Miss Pitty Pat's Garden of Hope is a roll/walk through garden area featuring plants that stimulate the 5 senses. Mayor Clayton's house is also here...and if you're short enough you can go inside for some air conditioned comfort


More of the Avenue, this time looking from the Ice Cream Palace down towards Amberville/House of Hearts


We have two of these trash cans, popular with the TPR crowd


They were donated by de Efteling


More villas, 142 in total



There is just so much to say about GKTW, this doesn't even cover it. It truly is a vacation of a lifetime for these much-deserving families...a time where they can laugh and be together as a family for the first time in a long time and not worry about hospitals and medical bills. I know GKTW is an organization most enthusiasts have heard of, but I wanted to try and show what it is truly about. If you have any questions about the Village, volunteering, donating or the Pepsi Refresh contest, feel free to comment here or send me a PM.


Thanks for reading and voting!

Edited by timberskara
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Amazing PTR. Before this, I only knew of this org in name and generic concept. I mean wow. Just amazing. I cannot imagine the joy the kids and families have going there. It must be a wonderful place to work as well.


Voted and will do so everyday until the end. C'mon TPR, lets knock this one out of the park!

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Thank you for the support, guys. We're currently in 16th place so we could really use some more votes! After you vote, be sure to check out some of the comments on our Refresh page...truly awesome stuff!


What an incredibly magical place. I think while we were there we completely forgot why we got to go. For a week there was no cancer! The volunteers are simply amazing people who deeply care. I pray this site wins because then the children win!


One of the "vintage" bathrooms that needs updating

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C'mon TPR, lets knock this one out of the park!

I agree. C'mon, TPR. We've helped others win contests in the past* , and there's no reason we can't do it again for an excellent cause!


Please, take a moment from bitching and moaning about theming and restraints, register for free, vote, and help some kids out who aren't as fortunate as you!






* (and less appreciative, I might add)

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^ For real. If we can manage to put Eagle's Fortress at the top of Mitch's Poll, but can't (or won't) use our strength to accomplish something that actually matters I will be very disappointed in us.


Seriously! People argue non-stop about crap that doesn't even matter, or pull together for stuff that really doesn't make a difference! It is just coasters and amusement parks people! This is real life stuff here! Help out!


You have my vote


This is amazing.


You mean votes! Vote every single day of June!

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GKTW Village is an amazing place. My team and I got the chance to do some volunteer landscaping work after Hurricane Charley went through. I was blown away at the amazing opportunities the kids and the families have here. Besides the Dino-Putt (who knew one of the Trikes was moved here!) Universal also puts on a non-scary haunted house here during Halloween.

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Wow, thank you all SO much! It makes me smile to see all of this support .



Bump! Vote!


You're a hot female enthusiast so voted for it


--Formerly rwilli82



Haha, don't worry about this. Rob's an old (and very sarcastic) friend of mine. While he is a bit of a creepster sometimes, he was just doing this for laughs...I was at his and his wife Cindy's wedding!

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