2017 IAAPA Attractions Expo Recap - Give Kids the World

Golfers, Runners, Motorcycle Riders Raise Funds for Give Kids The World

by Funworld staff

In what have become three beloved events, attendees of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 putted, ran, and drove home donations.

Give Kids the World (GKTW) Village in Kissimmee, Florida, is an 84-acre, nonprofit resort providing weeklong, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses. The fairy-tale-like setting of the resort, with its whimsical architecture, is reminiscent of a theme park.

“We feel so much like a part of the amusement industry,” said Caroline Schumacher, vice president of operations at GKTW. “We love that Expo attendees can come here and experience Give Kids The World.”  

In 2017, attendees raised $123,000 for the nonprofit resort, from participating in events to making corporate donations. 

On Par: Golfing for GKTW

The week began as more than 100 participants gathered at the Hawk’s Landing Golf Club for the 15th Annual IAAPA International Charity Golf Tournament.

“The difference you’ve made is just incredible—you’ve helped us serve 157,000 families from all around the world,” Pamela Landwirth, president and CEO of GKTW, told the gathering of golfers prior to tee time. 

For some players like Melissa Timco of Ralph S. Alberts Company, the tournament has a deep personal meaning. Timco lost her brother Eric at an early age and will visit GKTW when in Orlando to find a paver stone with her brother’s name on it. 

“He passed too early in life,” Timco said. “I would not miss this event for anything. It’s incredible what they do for kids who need some joy in their lives.”

Antonio Zamperla with Zamperla of Italy agrees.

“Visiting Give Kids The World is very emotional,” said Zamperla. “They make the children feel so good, and I believe that makes them stronger to fight their illnesses.”

The foursome from Colorvision took first place in the tournament: Henry Tyson, Mark Simmons, Cathy Fischer, and Skip Volkerson. Simmons, the company’s president and CEO, said he and his team are proud to support GKTW not just at the golf tournament, but throughout the year by providing free ride photos to families at the Village. 

“We’re starting to give volunteer hours from our staff out at the Village. It’s a great cause,” Simmons said. 

Racers Put Heart and ‘Sole’ into 5K

First-time IAAPA Attractions Expo attendees Vik Joga of The Attraction Services Company and Jeff Crocker of Cinnabar California Inc. couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in the IAAPA Charity 5K Run and 1K Walk, Footprints from the Heart.

For them, running alongside professional colleagues and friends on a cool, early morning surrounded by the brightly colored villas and whimsical venues at the GKTW Village added excitement to their Expo experience.

“It’s really great running through the streets, looking at the theming of this cool getaway,” Joga said.

The Thursday-morning event drew 178 participants, including Kathy Cleary, wife of IAAPA Lifetime Service Award honoree Chip Cleary. She enjoys walking through the Village every year on race day.

“It’s just inspirational being here,” she said. “Henri and Pam Landwirth have done a wonderful thing here building the Village, providing amazing experiences for the families.”

Volunteers from SeaWorld Orlando waved encouraging signs at the starting line, where Mayor Clayton energized 5K runners before they set out on two laps around the “storybook” resort. Some of the families staying at the resort ventured out to watch the race, and even took part. Bob Adams, the father of a wish child, finished the race first for the men, while Erin Teriele of Falcon’s Creative Group was the first woman to cross the finish line. All participants received a medal for finishing.

Rev Your Engines

A group of more than 40 motorcycle enthusiasts roared around the Orlando area for the 8th Annual IAAPA Motorcycle Ride. The tour included a stop at GKTW Village, where the bikers paraded their scream machines down the resort’s midway for families to enjoy. 

Vekoma Rides also made a check presentation to GKTW. Charlotte Van Etten for the Dutch ride designer presented a check for $30,000 as part of the annual motorcycle ride.

“This was our first visit to the Village as a group, and it was very moving,” said Tom Sheehan of The Sheehan Firm, one of the ride’s organizers. “What the Village does for families is beyond incredible.” 

Intamin Rides On

As Intamin closed out its 50th anniversary in 2017, the company donated a transportation tram to GKTW Village. 

The tram features a rear car that’s wheelchair accessible. GKTW will use the red and white tram to move families throughout the resort, particularly from their villas to onsite attractions like a carousel and ice cream palace. 

“We have golf carts we use, but this tram seats 30,” said Pamela Landwirth. “This is going to make their lives so much easier, and it’s so much fun!” In return, Landwirth presented Intamin’s Sascha Czibulka and International Amusements’ Vittorio Fabbri with a Village memento in recognition of their donation.