The dream of one child to meet Mickey Mouse
motivated Henri Landwirth to ensure that no child would be refused this wish.
Henri Landwirth, still active today in the Central Florida hotel
industry, had offered accommodations to a young girl suffering from leukemia and her
family at his establishment. However, he was deeply saddened to learn that time had proved
the enemy in the race to finalize a multitude of arrangements for the trip. The girl died
without experiencing her wish. Landwirth immediately called upon colleagues in the
hospitality industry, including the world famous theme parks, to assist him with a project
to bring families to Central Florida with less than 24 hours notice, if the
situation called for such action. Before long, Henri and two staff members began arranging
wish vacations out of a converted store room in one of his hotels. He named this fledgling
organization after its mission, "Give Kids The World," because that is what he
intended to do.
Soon major corporations comitted to providing many of the services
families would require for their stay, but the number of requests was quickly outgrowing
the lodging that the local hotel industry could provide. In addition, the hotels at the
time were not equipped to deal with the unique needs of families with ill children.
Henri called upon friends from the early days of his career as a
hotel manager in Cocoa Beach and Give Kids The World Village opened its gates to welcome
its first families in early 1989. His friends answered his call and his vision soon became
Today, the Village features 96-villas, a whimsical restaurant,
magical play area, an ice cream palace, a movie theatre, an interactive waterpark, a
fishing pond and even a peaceful chapel. Each year, the Village welcomes families from
communities in all 50 states and from more than 47 countries.
From the very first family who visited in 1986 to the families that
are arriving at the gates of the Village today, thousand of families a year have enjoyed a
few precious days away from hospitals, doctor visits and medical treatments. They thrive
in an environment filled with laughter, joy and hugs.