|Posted by Nicole on August 14, 2011 at 9:30 PM|
I don’t know who these people are, though their nametags are called “wings.” Those who haven’t yet earned their wings wear sticker-nametags while tending to their flocks, eager to jump to any sheep’s aid.
They are older and retired, they are young with the glint of youth and innocence, and they are somewhere in between. One says, “Come here – Let me show you something cool” to Owen and Alec, while another patiently pushes the button for Aiden, again, to make the train come out of its tunnel and up over our heads. One was sprinting to our dinner table so quickly that Owen didn’t even have time to find napkins after he’d spilled his pop. While Andy and I chastised the 9 year old for being careless, the volunteer wiped it up proclaiming how often it happens here.
Yes, I said volunteer. Over 1500 volunteer shifts are staffed this week alone here at the Give Kids The World Village, making our stay possible. One even greeted us at baggage claim this afternoon, guiding us to our rental car. As much as Andy and I like to stay in control of things, it was actually ridiculously nice to just follow the veteran who knew her way around the airport.
I can’t quite describe how we’re treated here. It’s not like kings – they don’t serve us or pander to us as if we’d paid them heartily or are potentially going to give them a bad review on their company’s website. No, it’s a different feeling entirely: So much better. They are honestly here to make sure we don’t have any worries and smile for 7 solid days, the burden of caring for and financing a sick child lifted off our shoulders if only for a week.
I tried to wave the delivery man away as he dropped off the Aiden-sized wheelchair they had ordered for us 5 minutes after we pulled into our villa’s driveway. I waved him on with an “Oh, we brought our own wheelchair from home – Thank you, though!” The nice man just smiled and nodded, unloaded the adorable little yellow chair, and said, “I know. They thought this might come in handy, though.” He tipped his hat and went on his way.
We’ve used it all day, eliminating the need to transfer heavy wheelchairs from cars to driveways, to inside. It’s the little things like this that make this trip so special. Well, that and the carousel in the middle of the village that they can ride as often as they want, turn after turn after turn. And the all-day free ice cream. And the life-size Candyland board on which they’re the players. And the sweet kitchen chef who made Aiden an entire gluten free pizza tonight, only because he asked.
Who ARE these people? I am humbled by their complete generosity. One man built a whole center for the train-loving Wish kids, including a model trainset the kids operate that cycles through day and night in a 1950s mountain town, complete with the typical Florida afternoon thunderstorm. Did I mention the life-sized train that runs around the building? Or the also life-sized dinosaurs lurking in the mini-golf course?
We are so lucky to have this experience, and even as I write this I know my words aren’t doing justice to the generosity, understanding, and open hearts these angels have bestowed on us today. Thank you, Make-A-Wish and Give Kids the World, for truly giving Aiden and our family the World!