To those who participated in our recent auction and helped us raise another $100,000 for Give Kids the World Village, and to anyone who has ever volunteered at, donated to, or spread the word about this beloved cause,
We hope you feel proud today. We hope that there is warmth in your heart that can't be extinguished by any of the coldness the world throws at you. We hope there is a smile on your face or a gleam in your eye that is a shade brighter than you're used to. We are so grateful, and we hope you realize what you've done.
But maybe you don't. Maybe, after watching our marathon show or donating to our auction, or sharing the news on social media and helping spread the word for such an important cause, maybe you still don't get the full weight of what those actions can build to. That could be because you're only thinking of it from the one side.
You're a parent, and that word has taken on more meaning than you could have ever anticipated. You expected new responsibilities when you gained the title, and those responsibilities came in spades, but still, you got much more than that. The word has come to define you, who you are and what your purpose in this world is. The aspirations and needs you had in your early life are still there, but they are now a means to an end. Your goal, coded into your very being on a molecular level, is the continued safety and security of the most precious and important creation in all of existence.
Then you get the news.
That safety, that security, that little life is threatened before it even had a chance. That tiny part of your heart that lives outside of your body has been diagnosed with a critical illness. So you embrace that word — parent. Now it becomes something deeper, something stronger, something aggressive. While you may feel powerless and terrified beyond belief, you push back against the threats to your charge. You rise up to the role of caretaker and protector as a challenge. You research, you spend hours upon hours scheduling appointments and looking for answers. You work because you have to, and you miss work because you have to. You drive, and you read, and you call, and you talk, and you work, and you comfort, and you pray.
It gets exhausting. Life spins out of control, and while others can show weakness when it gets overwhelming, you can't give up. You have to be strong when it's needed, but vulnerable when that is what's required. You've got to approach situations with logic and reason, but when things look hopeless you've got to tell logic and reason to hit the road. You've got to figure out what is needed at any given time and somehow find the strength to act accordingly.
You try to take things one step at a time. You have to be careful about thinking of the future, thinking about what could happen, because when you do that the floodgates open and the emotions are so intense and powerful that they feel paralyzing.
You see the effect one beautiful child's illness can have on an entire family, the heart-wrenching pain in the eyes of those you long to see smile. They need a break from the pain; you need a break from the pain. But how, with all of the financial and medical burdens already scraping your time and bank account razor thin, are you supposed to manage any semblance of normalcy?
Then somehow, through an unexpected-in-all-of-the-good-ways twist of fate, you learn about Give Kids the World Village. The information finds its way to you that there is a place specifically created for families in your position, for children who feel like yours does and parents who feel like you do. A place that gives respite to the brave, and comfort to those fighting the good fight.
There is a place that knows what the word parent has come to mean to you. But they also know that being a parent isn't just about protecting and comforting, it's about laughing, joking, inspiring — creating memories that remind your child how wonderful the life they have really is. Give Kids the World knows that you can't enjoy the best parts of parenting if you're wrapped up in the hardest aspects of it, so they take care of all that. They arrange transportation, food, lodging, and medical care so you can stop worrying about just surviving for a little bit. Then they fill your time with events, entertainment, and access to Orlando attractions like the Walt Disney World Resort; they help you remember that being a parent comes not just with responsibilities, but with uplifting surprises and the sheer bliss that comes from watching your child's eyes open to the wondrous experiences life has to offer.
You'd probably ask, if it were you, how does all of this happen?
That, dear readers, is where you come into the picture. Every time we've put out the call, you have shown up in full force. To date, over $700,000 has been raised for Give Kids the World through donation drives and auctions by DIS Unplugged. We try our best to raise funds and awareness, and you always give us your best in return. It's a system that works.
President and CEO of Give Kids the World Pam Landwirth said of the DIS Unplugged community's efforts, “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with DIS Unplugged. Through their boundless generosity and caring hearts, they have raised nearly three quarters of a million dollars! These much-needed funds help us create the happiness that inspires hope for the precious children we serve. Words alone could never begin to express our heartfelt gratitude for their ongoing love and support."
That's the thing about giving — it works, you've just got to choose the right places to give. Around 93 cents of every dollar donated to Give Kids the World goes directly to the families they support. You don't have to wonder if all of your hard-earned dollars — and your good intentions — are going to marketing campaigns or board meeting retreats; what you give is going to directly affect a family who could really use a few good days.
For just one example of how this idea plays out, check out this thread on DISBoards.com, where a poster recounts his family's experience with GKTW and the uplifting effect it can have on those fighting critical illnesses.
If you missed your chance to donate during our holiday auction, don't worry — we've set up a First Giving page where you can continue to donate and add a little relief to some families in need. You can also donate directly to Give Kids the World directly on their site, and while you are there you can learn even more about the profound and inspirational work that they do.
So once again, from all of us here at The DIS and DIS Unplugged, thank you for your help supporting this cause. Whether you've donated money through a fundraiser, volunteered your time at the village, or just worked to raise awareness about Give Kids the World, we are in your debt. This sublime organization is close to our hearts, and you've shown us it is close to yours as well. You've done a great thing — be proud, be hopeful, be happy.
If you missed our marathon show and didn't get an opportunity to see it live, here is our interview with GKTW's Pam Landwirth. One word of warning: Pam's stories are beautiful and powerful; you may need to prep a box of tissue before clicking play.
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