He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
- Isaiah 40:29-31

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 1

So we arrive at GKTW and are instantly taken to a different world. The volunteers there gave the boys t-shirts as well as their second stuffed animals which were a Mickey for Joshua and mini Shamu's for Adam and Noah. We were given a quick intro to the village and then directed to Katie's Kitchen for lunch. All the food at Katie's Kitchen is donated by Boston Market. Talk about good stuff! After lunch, we were driven to our villa in a golf cart. The boys thought this was cool. The villa was much more than anyone could have asked for. It was a two bedroom, two bath villa with all the amenities of home. The first thing you need to know about GKTW is that no money ever changes hands there. The place is run on about 3 to 5,000 volunteers as well as a few paid employees. The second thing is that everything is there for the kids. The villa's are set up so that the kids bedroom has a HUGE bathroom attached with a whirlpool bathtub and walk in shower. The adult bedroom doesn't have a bathroom. Our bathroom was in the hall and very tiny. Very fitting.

After exploring the villa, it was off to ice cream. Our first of many trips to the Ice Cream Palace during the week. Here we found Friendly's ice cream along with all the fixings and toppings you could dream of. We also found it funny to watch Jeff try and sit at the child sized table and chairs. While the boys finished up their ice cream, I went off to an orientation meeting so that I could pick up all the tickets to the parks as well as learn more details of the events at the village. And boy does the village have events.

At my meeting I learned that we had 3 day park hopper tickets to Disney, 2 day park hopper tickets to Universal Studios as well as 1 day at SeaWorld. And if that wasn't enough, they could get us tickets to just about any show, dinner theater or attraction in and around the Orlando area. There would be no waiting in ANY line at ANY of these parks either. We were to just show the guest assistance pass that said we were with GKTW and off we went. Talk about service! I also learned that every day the village had something going on. In the mornings, the characters would come to GKTW for pictures with the kids and there was always something going on in the evening such as on Thursday night when it was Christmas. GKTW holds Christmas every Thursday night. Santa comes and each child gets to go and sit on Santa's lap for a picture. Then, they are able to pick out one gift from Santa's stash. (more on this when I post about Thursday's adventure)

After my meeting, I met up with the gang and we headed to Walmart to gather some supplies for the week. The boys had been fishing in the meantime and had already taken a ride on the village choo choo train. Once again, very child sized and funny to see Jeff fit in the car!

Finally, we got back to the villa and were all in bed by 8pm. After starting the day so early, we had to get some rest so we could be ready to go for day 2 and our first day at the parks!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

As Promised

So I'm finally getting around to posting about our trip. Here it goes...

On Friday night we had the wonderful volunteers from Make a Wish come to our house. They arrived with cookies and ice cream as well as stuffed Disney characters for the boys. I hadn't told them what characters are their favorites so I was amazed when they showed up with a Mickey (Adam's favorite), Goofy (Noah's) and a Pluto (Joshua's). They boys were ecstatic and it was so nice to see how happy those stuffed animals made them. Jeff and I were amazed at how generous the Make-A-Wish organization can be. When we first talked to them about Joshua's wish, we thought that they would send us to Disney and give us a place to stay. That's exactly what they did. And then they did SOOOO much more. Make-A-Wish provided us with spending money, transportation, lodging and a lifetime of memories. They are truly a special organization.

So after the Make-A-Wish volunteers left, we got the boys in bed and Jeff and I sat back and reflected on what had just happened. We were already amazed at what an opportunity this was for us and we hadn't even left yet. But, we were in for so much more.

Saturday morning came along and at 5:30 am, a 10 passenger limo pulls up to take us to the airport. I'm telling you, Make-A-Wish goes ALL out! The boys thought the car was really cool and Jeff and I were just as impressed. The trip to the airport took no time considering it was early on a Saturday. We got through security at the airport and waited for our plane. Pretty soon, we were on a Southwest airplane and on our way to Orlando.

Once we arrived in Orlando, we made our way toward baggage claim when we saw a Give Kids the World volunteer holding a sign that said, "Give Kids the World Welcomes Joshua Czorapinski." Talk about cool. The funny thing is that the volunteer was originally from Annapolis, MD. Anyway, she took us to pick up our bags and then guided us to the car rental counter where everything was already taken care of and we just had to pick up the keys to our mini van. The volunteer gave us our directions and we were off to Give Kids the World (aka the most amazing, wonderful, generous place on earth).

Okay so that's the beginning of our trip. Check back soon for the continuing story!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Make-A-Wish Trip Video!

Here is a video I've put together of our trip. I promise I will write about all the details but life has been SUPER busy since we've gotten back. For those of you who know me, I haven't even unpacked yet so that should tell you something!

Enjoy and be sure to let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We're Back!

I have a ton to write about but we are still recovering from a wonderful week. I promise to post pics and tell you all about our trip at some point this week.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's almost here.

I just received our itinerary from Make-A-Wish. Forget the kids, I'm SOOOO excited. Being a Disney fanatic, I was so glad that Joshua chose Disney as his wish. I won't spoil all of the exciting things they have planned for us just yet as I barely know half of them myself, but we leave at 5:30 am on Saturday to head for the airport. I will try to update the blog every day with a picture or two so if you're interested, check back daily! Orlando, here we come!