IAE18 Recap - Give Kids the World - January 2019


 IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run/1 Mile Walk drew 300 participants.

Expo Attendees Raise Funds for Give Kids The World Through Special Events

by Juanita Chavarro Arias, Scott Fais, and Keith Miller

During the week of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018, attendees took part in three annual events benefiting Give Kids The World (GKTW) Village in Kissimmee, Florida, that have become cherished traditions with a lot of significance for participants. 

Through a golf tournament, motorcycle ride, fun run and walk, individual and corporate donations, and a hole-in-one challenge at the GKTW booth on the trade show floor, Expo attendees raised approximately $120,000 for the 84-acre, nonprofit resort, where children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.

“Next year will be our 25th anniversary of partnering with IAAPA,” said Pam Landwirth, GKTW president and CEO, at the 12th annual IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run/
1 Mile Walk. “The people who are out here are amazing—the fact that they want to come out here and experience the Village is a testament to the love and respect that the global attractions industry has for Give Kids The World. We are so blessed to be supported by an industry where people have such big hearts, and they really care about people.”


The winners of the golf tournament were (from left) John Andrews, Will B. Morey, Walter Bowser, and Scott Heke.

Sunny Skies Bring Bright Spirits to the Golf Course

Though all the forecasts called for cloudy weather, bright sunny skies greeted the 129 players who ventured to the Falcon’s Fire Golf Course in Kissimmee for the 16th Annual IAAPA Charity Golf Tournament.

Bill Alter, who co-chairs the golf tournament along with Jeff Hudson and has been involved with it since its inception, said, “It is so great to have so many golfers and friends return to play year after year in this tournament and support such a great cause. For 16 years, they have come early for the Expo so they can support Give Kids The World.”

That’s perhaps one of the most wonderful but overlooked elements of this event. The participants make the dedicated effort to come to IAAPA Attractions Expo at least a day or two early so they can participate in this tournament.

Venturing to Orlando from Liechtenstein was Sascha Czibulka of Intamin Amusement Rides, who perfectly summarized what the golf tournament is all about: “It’s a fun day with friends while at the same time supporting Give Kids The World. [The Village] is mind-blowing. It’s great to see the support given to the family and that the children, especially, can have a wonderful time there. It makes one very emotional.”

The winners of this year’s tournament were John Andrews, Walter Bowser, Scott Heke, and Will B. Morey.


More than 60 motorcyclists woke up early and rode to benefit Give Kids The World. 

IAAPA Motorcycle Ride Rolls into Expo Week

Damon Paramore with Betson Enterprises rolled into IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 on his motorcycle for a good cause and wouldn’t have it any other way. He made the two-day trek from Dallas, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, on his motorcycle—encountering 38-degree Fahrenheit temperatures along the way—to join 60 other Expo attendees participating in the ninth annual IAAPA Motorcycle Ride.

“People in the industry have a love of riding bikes,” Paramore said.

Over the past nine years, event participants on their motorcycles have raised more than $330,000 for GKTW Village.

“It’s such a wonderful organization that I actually tear up when I talk about the Village,” said Tom Sheehan, IAAPA Motorcycle Ride planner. “They do such incredible work for these families with special children.”

Sheehan holds each year’s route close to the vest, revealing the ride path just before riders saddle up. Participants rode to Sugar Loaf Mountain north of downtown Orlando to behold the city skyline and lunch on Lake Eustis at a ­classic old Florida fish camp.

“It’s a fun way to meet your friends and let your hair down a little bit before the show starts and we go to work,” said Dick Chance with Chance Rides.


Katrina Verweel and Ethan Knoebel were the first 5K finishers.

IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run/1 Mile Walk Draws Record Number of Participants

Among the 300 runners and walkers at the 12th annual IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run/1 Mile Walk—a record number of participants for the event—was a team representing Nickelodeon, including designer Jovon ­Harkless, associate art director Patrick Kling, and production manager Jessie Pries. The team has participated in the fun run/walk for the past three years, and while wearing tutus has become a standing tradition, Harkless said, they added a “Double Dare” theme to their attire this year.

“Give Kids The World does such amazing things, so by coming out here, we’re able to give back in such a fun way,” Pries added. “I love seeing all the families and kids along the pathway when we’re running. It’s nice to be able to impact what’s being done here.”

Gateway Ticketing Systems was the event’s top fundraising team, and Nickelodeon’s Kling was the top individual fundraiser. Longtime participant Ethan Knoebel was the run’s first male finisher, while Katrina Verweel, trade show and events lead for WhiteWater, was the first female runner to cross the finish line.

“I think it’s such a good opportunity for everyone involved in the trade show to support such an amazing charity,” Verweel said. “It’s awesome when you can get outside and go for a run because usually when you’re working at trade shows, you’re so busy inside all day long. I was definitely not expecting to win, but I’m really happy and proud.”

For more information about Give Kids The World, visit www.gktw.org.