One of the most heartfelt and humbling experiences in my life was having the honor of attending one of the Night of a Million Lights celebrations that were held at Give Kids the World. The breathtaking beauty of the event was coupled with the amazing meaning behind its location.
If you aren’t from the Kissimmee/Orlando area, you may not have heard of Give Kids the World. You’ve, of course, heard of Make a Wish, right? GKTW is a similar concept and works with organizations like MaW, but they’re a little more up close and personal. I initially stumbled upon them on a map when we were considering moving to the area and was curious about what it was. That’s how I first learned of this magical place.
Run largely by volunteers, GKTW is a nonprofit organization that grants a magical experience to critically ill children. It’s been in operation since 1986 and has welcomed more than 176,000 families from all 50 states and 76 countries. This special place was started in honor of a little girl named Amy. You can read more about the story and Mr. Henri Landwirth, who started GKTW, here.
With 89 acres and 166 villas to accommodate critically ill children and their families, GKTW offers a magical “land” where children can, for a while, forget about some of their stresses and cares. How? Not only are the grounds filled with activities, charming scenes, and yummy foods, but there are also special events that occur every week – like a trick or treat night and a birthday party night, for the kids to enjoy. This fantasy land is located about 15 minutes from Disney property and not much further from Legoland, Universal, Sea World, and other Orlando attractions.
Night of a Million Lights was a special event conceived because the park was closed down for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis 2020 in order to protect the health of their guests. The folks at GKTW brilliantly realized an opportunity to raise funds for the park since they weren’t able to host any families. At the same time, it raised public awareness of their organization.
I’m not sure how everything was arranged, but several businesses hosted decorations for the event and Disney donated millions of lights to decorate the park. Each business that participated decorated one of the cottages that host the families that visit the Orlando area as part of their wish.
There were plenty of places to take neat photos.
The whole area looked incredible. Even the carousel was aglow.
Santa was even onsite – safely social distanced of course.
The whole night was just breathtaking. It was so inspiring and heartwarming to see all that GKTW does to create precious memories for their guests.
Night of a Million Lights is now an annual fundraiser! If you’d like to experience this enchanting and loving event, visit https://www.gktw.org/lights/.