When the Make-a-Wish Foundation contacted me, to tell me that Rachel had been chosen to be granted a wish...I had no idea just how much this organization would come to bless our lives!
The build up and anticipation for our vacation to Florida was unbelievable! The kids made a countdown chart, that counted down the days until our trip. The chart started with 55 days, then each day, one of the kids would scribble off a day...THEN the excitement really got going, when the kids could count the days left, on their fingers!
did so well!
Here is Rachel...All ready to go! She wheeled her suitcase and carry-on bag with no problems!
The gang taking the shuttle to the airport! It's EARLY, but the kids didn't mind at all!
"Are we there yet?"
(we hadn't even gotten to the airport yet!)
Rachel waiting for our plane!!!
Kids hanging out on the plane!
The kids did so great on the planes to Florida, I was really proud of them! We kept them happy with snacks and plenty of activities, so that helped out. It took us about 9 hrs to get to Florida, including layovers and time changes...and I was impressed that we had no melt-downs the entire day---way to go kids!!!
Finally, we got to GKTW Village! It was more impressive in person, than I expected! The bright colors on the outside of the building, mixed with the warm and loving staff on the inside was so amazing!
They immediately greeted us, and began checking us in. A stuffed Mickey for Rachel, as well as toys for the other kids, made this process a snap!
Katie's Kitchen helped us out with dinner, then it was on our way to the Villa, where we would be spending the next few days!
This place is truly magical. From the moment you enter the gates, it like the world transforms around you. Every single person inside THESE gates, knows what it's like to cry for your child, who is suffering, or in pain.
But what I didn't feel, while I was inside these gates was sorrow...or sadness. There was an overwhelming sense of emotion, and it did make me cry many many tears, but I felt so happy, that there was a place like this, for families to be able to come together, and share in their child's wish.
The street where we stayed.
EXPLORING GIVE KIDS THE WORLD!
The Ice Cream Shop is the best! The kids from all over the resort come and go as they please, and order to their hearts content! We were a little too late the first night for ice cream, but we enjoyed ice cream quite a bit on this vacation!
The Village is just amazing! From the mushroom carousel, miniature golfing, pint sized play house, splash pads (and sooo much more) for the kids, to the comfy/cozy dining of the Ginger Bread House for kids and adults...This place had the best at heart for both parents and children!
A Star is Born
We waited to do Rachel's wish star until a few days into the trip....mostly because we wanted to make it a big deal...and getting the theme parks done first was a good way to do that.
I'm really glad we waited, because this WAS a big deal! Just walking into the Castle of Miracles, was a huge emotional thing for me.
We were greeted by a very friendly Knight!
Rachel-making her star!
Rachel's Wish Star Placement!
When Rachel made her star...and placed it on the wall, I felt this huge emotional breakdown. I looked at the THOUSANDS of stars, that covered the walls and ceiling of this magical place and was overwhelmed. Rachel being a part of this building, individualized each and every one of these stars for me---it's truly the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of.
NOW FOR SOME PILLOW MAKIN' FUN!
This place was so awesome....they included all of my children in everything they did for Rachel, which THEY loved! The pillows were a nice touch! The "magical" machine had the kids select their own special type of pillow and they sat back and watched as the machine "made" the pillows and dropped them into the bottom.
I SCREAM-YOU SCREAM-WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM!!
And yes....we ate Ice Cream for breakfast! I mean who wouldn't? The kids just LOVED it! ICE CREAM --? For Breakfast? Mom are you sure?! This place has definitely changed me forever. I look at everything differently now. Things that were important -- or seemed important to me, I now try to let some of it go a little bit. I will never be the same!
Hanging out at the resort!
We ended up going to Disney World two times (that place is just too huge to do in one day!) Then we did did Universal two times (that place is also huge) The pics for those days will be in a different blog....I wanted this one to just focus on how amazing GKTW was.
On our last official day -- we gave the kids a choice of either staying at the resort, or choosing to go to another theme park....They chose to stay back at the Villa. I was glad for that, mostly because I know that everyone was sooo exhausted from all the activities.
OUR LAST DAY AT GKTW
The pool was great! The water was warm and the kids could push a button and make water squirt out from different places! :) We could have spent all day in the pool...my lil' fishies.
A good friend of mine also drove out to see us! It was soo nice to see her and her daughters! It made the last day of our vacation so special...Thank you Teresa for driving all the way out there with your girls---it was an amazing visit, and truly awesome!
One LAST Ice Cream chow down!
Some of the characters at GKTW!
Poor Rachel was soo sick on the way home...I felt so bad for her.
Getting home from the vacation was emotional....during check out of GKTW Rachel began to cry...."I don't want to leave this place Mama. I feel good when I'm here!" I just hugged her and told her that I felt good while I was there too. But that one really cool thing was that we could take a piece of the Village home with us. I told Rachel that SHE will forever be a part of this place....and the place will forever be a part of her.
She liked that.
The memories will last forever. And Give Kids the World will forever live in Rachel's heart.
Thank you MAKE-A-WISH, for fulfilling my daughter's wish....You helped more then just HER wish come true....You helped my entire family!