PGA Among Sponsors for Special Holiday Lights Experience with Give Kids the World Village
The holiday season is getting an early start in Florida for some very special families, with help from the PGA Tour.
Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Florida, is an 89-acre non-profit resort that welcomes children battling critical illnesses from around the world to fulfill their Make-A-Wish at no personal cost.
This winter, the village is hosting Night of a Million Lights from Nov. 13 to Jan. 3, during which three million lights will illuminate the resort. The resort villas, where families stay during their visits, were individually decorated by 45 different sponsors, including the PGA.
"There's just so much to look at and it's gorgeous," PGA Tour Athlete Hank Lebioda tells PEOPLE.
Give Kids the World Village will celebrate their 35th anniversary next year and has served 176,000 families from all 50 states. The organization has been "tremendously" impacted by the pandemic, and was forced to close on March 18 and lay off over 80 percent of their staff in June, President and CEO Pam Landwirth says.
Though the park has since reopened due to eased restrictions in Florida, 600 to 700 "wishes" each month have been postponed.
"By the end of this year, roughly 6,000 wishes will have been postponed," Landwirth says. "And children already facing grave or terminal health conditions don't understand, as this is their challenge day in and day out."
Landwirth continues, "These families, they're so used to not feeling normal in the outside world."
Though the village was sending special gift boxes out to families whose wishes were delayed, the charitable organization wanted to do something more, and thus decided to light up the resort's main avenue for the fundraising event.
"What this is going to do for us is invite the community in and have them learn about the experience and be able then to hopefully recruit new volunteers, new donors," Landwirth explains. "And I think that's going to be so critical for us and at the holidays it's all about families and it's all about giving back."
Proceeds from the event will support Give Kids the World's mission to provide all-inclusive wish vacations.
In addition to the decorated buildings, the donated lights from the Walt Disney company will make up a 150-foot tunnel, 50 holiday-themed wireframes, and a gingerbread arch. Attendees will be served free hot chocolate and ice cream.
There will be safety protocols in place for the outdoor event, including required masks and temperature tests, as well as limited, ticketed attendance.
"I think people right now need a reason to have hope as this has been a traumatic year," Landwirth says.
Lebioda, who attended the holiday light show this week, tells PEOPLE he grew up in Orlando but was not familiar with Give Kids the World until earlier this year when he visited through the PGA's sponsorship.
"They have this unbelievable facility," Lebioda says. "It's just a completely special kind of jaw-dropping place. I really was blown away by how cool it was."
The golfer adds: "They provide joy, they provide hope, they provide happiness."
He was also impressed by the sponsor villas, including the PGA's: "Each of these companies or sponsors decorated their villa in a way to where it's awesome. It's unique to them. Each house is different. They did a wonderful job kind of setting up an easy walking path that you can get all around. You can see all the villas without coming into close contact with everyone else."
Lebioda says he's aware of what being a PGA player affords him, and is grateful for any opportunity to give back to his community or those less fortunate. "And that's one of the reasons why I love partnering with Give Kids the World and being able to do functions with them and do what I can as a PGA tour player to spread awareness and to give back. It's honoring and it's humbling."
For tickets to Night of a Million Lights, click here.
Source: Read Full Article