1. Section Editor(s): Palatnik, AnneMarie MSN, APN, ACNS-BC

Article Content

In a previous editorial, I wrote about creating "nursing awesome." While I still do believe that each of us has the opportunity to create nursing awesome, I now have a new appreciation for the true meaning of the word.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

This week I had the humbling experience of volunteering with about 50 people from our healthcare organization (including my daughter) at Give Kids The World (GKTW) Village.1 According to their mission statement, GKTW "is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of GKTW Village for as long as there is a need."


More than 132,000 children have had their dreams come true at GKTW. No child in need has ever been turned away. GKTW is a place where families can find joy, laughter, serenity, and a lifetime of memories.


Similar to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America,2 children come to GKTW through a wish granting foundation. Wish children and their families come into the village through the House of Hearts and then enter a whimsical fantasyland designed to allow every child, regardless of illness or disability, to participate in all kinds of activities in the Garden of Hope, the Park of Dreams, the amazing swimming pool, the wheelchair accessible carousel, and even horseback riding. It's a place where kids can eat ice cream every day for breakfast, and volunteers get to "scoop hope." At GKTW, the children and their families create amazing family memories free from healthcare providers' appointments and painful treatments.


GKTW is staffed by 1,200 volunteer shifts each week. Volunteers are called angels. As a volunteer you truly are made to feel like an angel by the families, the children, and the staff. Each shift that I worked came with tons of laughter and lots of tears. In fact, I can't think of a time when I laughed so much and at the same time choked back so many tears.


My jobs at the village were quite diverse; I got to do things like help with the horse rides, prepare the budding child stars for "Village Idol," work in the La-Ti-Da Spa, be one of the world's tallest elves, and even bus tables. Most important, I got to help create some amazing memories for the wish families.


This past week, I learned that the true meaning of awesome is helping to make a "Wish Child's" dream come true. I'm eternally grateful to GKTW for giving me the opportunity to experience the true meaning of awesome. GKTW is a place where "happiness inspires hope." My life has been changed for the better because of this opportunity and it's helped to put things in perspective.


Until the next time: be healthy, be happy, be great advocates for your patients, and get out there and volunteer. You'll get back far more than you give.




1. Give Kids The World, Inc. [Context Link]


2. Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. [Context Link]