KISSIMMEE, Fla. (December 18, 2012) - Orlando hotelier and recognized philanthropist Harris Rosen, president of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, has donated $1 million to Give Kids The World (GKTW) towards the construction of 64 new villas which will accommodate more children with life-threatening illnesses and their families visiting the nonprofit resort for a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation. The donation, which was made through the Harris Rosen Foundation, will go towards GKTW's $40 million Capital Expansion and Improvement project, which is part of a larger $120 million, four-year Village Campaign.
"Give Kids The World got an early Christmas present this week when I received a phone call that all non-profits dream of getting," said GKTW President Pamela Landwirth. "Mr. Rosen's incredible gift not only jump-starts the fundraising for our new villas, but also provides the inspiration to hope for many more generous gifts in support of our campaign."
Rosen is a widely recognized and respected hotelier, community builder, father and philanthropist who founded Rosen Hotels & Resorts in 1974 before donating 25 acres of land and $10 million to the University of Central Florida in 2002 to develop the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF. Students from Rosen College volunteer regularly at GKTW, following their founder's mantra of giving back to the community. Rosen has a long history of giving to those in need, particularly children.
"I realize what an incredibly fortunate individual I am because I have been able to achieve so much more than I ever imagined, and now I have an opportunity to give back, something I have always wanted to do," said Rosen. "My hope is that others in my position will recognize their duty to engage in what I refer to as 'responsible capitalism' and to use their success and wealth to benefit others, simply because it's the right thing to do."
Every year, GKTW welcomes more than 7,000 families from around the world for a weeklong, cost-free vacation complete with accommodations in whimsical villas, meals, donated attractions tickets, nightly entertainment and more. However, with only 140 villas on the 70-acre resort, nearly 500 of those families must stay off-site at nearby hotels. Rosen's gift will allow more children and their families the opportunity to experience the magic of staying at the whimsical Village where ice cream is served for breakfast, Christmas comes once a week and 6-foot-tall bunny rabbits named Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry tuck the children in at night.
Today, Rosen had the opportunity to meet one of the families who will be helped because of his gift. The Vandiver Family from Pelham, Ala., is staying at Give Kids The World Village this week as part of 4-year-old Abigail's wish to visit Walt Disney World. Diagnosed with cancer at seven months old, "Abby" has been cancer-free for three and half years. Rosen shared in the family's fun this morning by indulging in ice cream for breakfast - a tradition a Give Kids The World Village - with Abby and siblings Patrick, 10, and Sarah, 7. Afterwards, he joined the children for a ride on the Village's Enchanted Carousel.
Watching her children's faces light up with joy as the carousel spun around, Abby's mother, Amy, remarked, "I stay at home with the children and my husband is a police officer so being [at Give Kids The World Village] is something we could never have afforded on our own. It is truly the vacation of a lifetime."
For more information on GKTW's Village Campaign, please visit: www.givekidstheworld.org/campaign/.
About Give Kids The World
Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. GKTW provides accommodations at its whimsical resort, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacation. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 120,000 families from all 50 states and over 70 countries. Visit www.gktw.org for more information on GKTW and its mission.
Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.