As winter weather sets a chill across Central Florida, thousands of local youth are keeping warm thanks to donations from participants in the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna.
Wearing mouse-eared hard hats, the rescued Chilean coal miners pose Jan. 31, 2011 for a photo on Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. All of the miners, their rescuers and their families are enjoying a Disney-provided holiday saluting them for their story of hope and perseverence.
Photo by Kent Phillips, courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort.
An institution at the Disneyland Resort, the lowering of the U.S. flag takes place each evening in the Town Square of Disneyland. Unlike its sister ceremony at the Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom, however, the ceremony rarely honors individuals who have performed service in the country’s military.
Yesterday evening, that rare and distinct honor went to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta who was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest service award possible to a member of the United States military, by President Barack Obama.
A New Year will mean new memories for the Chilean miners whose saga transfixed the world, as they are treated to a hero’s welcome and family vacations of a lifetime at Walt Disney World Resort next month.
During their complimentary six-night Disney vacation, Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2011, the miners, their rescuers and immediate families will meet Disney characters, visit all four Walt Disney World theme parks and serve as honorary Grand Marshals of the Main Street, U.S.A. parade in Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney World VoluntEARS prepare and serve nearly 750 meals a month at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, a tradition that spans at least a decade and one of many ways that Disney lends a helping hand at the Coalition, which provides food and shelter to approximately 650 people a night. Many of them are families with children.
The Walt Disney World Resort takes care of dinner service twice monthly at the Coalition. When a holiday falls on the schedule, Disney chefs find great delight in making the meals even more magical.
Sarah White, a 16 year old from Seattle, WA, was recognized earlier this week by the Disneyland Resort for selflessly gifting her medal from the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon to a fellow runner who was injured during the event. At just about a half mile from the finish line, 76 year old Shirley Rackner of Portland, OR fell and was injured, ultimately preventing her from finishing the race and earning the medal herself. At a pep rally held at White’s school, Disney (and Mickey Mouse) recognized White for her generosity and replaced her medal in a ceremony. Rackner, who had to have surgery to have a metal plate attached to her wrist, was also in attendance.
Before an audience of their peers, family and friends, the next chapter in a true-life Cinderella story unfolded this morning at Magic Kingdom Park as two Walt Disney World Cast Members were chosen to step into the time-honored role of Walt Disney World Ambassador. During a special ceremony in front of Cinderella Castle prior to park open, Norman Vossschulte and Jennifer Mason were named as the 40th Walt Disney World Ambassador Team and will serve from Jan. 1, 2011 – Dec. 31, 2012.
Disneyland Resort cast members made magic for their favorite Southern California nonprofit organizations by donating more than $385,000. This month, cast members selected nearly 80 organizations – from local schools to social services – to receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
The Anaheim Interfaith Shelter was one of the organizations that received a $5,000 grant. The shelter will use the funds to provide healthy food options at its on-site food pantry, helping to counter obesity among underprivileged children. The organization assists families in need of short-term support due to one-time events that cause homelessness.
Taking to the stage for charitable good, the Encore! Cast Choir and Orchestra hit an all-time high recently by raising $36,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida. The volunteer ensemble of nearly 500 Disney Cast Members put in more than 47,000 hours to produce Dream Our Dreams, A Musical Tribute to the Legacy of Disney. Proceeds from the August 6-8 shows hosted at Epcot World ShowPlace were given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Northern Florida this week.
Throughout August, The Walt Disney Company is donating $627,050 to the Central Florida community in recognition of the 251,000 hours given by Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS in 2009. From schools to shelters, Cast Members selected approximately 250 local non-profit agencies and community service groups to receive Disney’s EARS to You grants. Top recipients include Orange County Public Schools, A Better Life Pet Rescue and local chapters of the American Cancer Society.
“Disney VoluntEARS enjoy sharing their time and talents and have a vested interest in making Central Florida an even better place for all who live in our community,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations, Walt Disney World Resort. “The collective contributions of these Cast Members are impressive and impactful; they are truly making a difference during a time when it’s needed most.”
The Walt Disney Company, through the Disney VoluntEARS program, provides opportunities for Cast Members to give their time and expertise toward positively impacting their communities. Each year, the Company recognizes VoluntEARS who donate at least 10 hours of service with EARS to You grants, which are financial contributions of up to $1,000 to the non-profit organization of their choice.
This year, Walt Disney World Resort awarded more than 800 EARS to You grants. Disney dollars will go toward a wide array of worthy causes including local youth development groups, health and social services programs, environmental causes, community theatres and pet rescue organizations.
Disney VoluntEAR Maria Kirkland received an EARS to You grant of $500 for her active support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “I feel very fortunate to be able to provide not only my time but a financial contribution to such a worthy organization,” said Kirkland. “It makes me feel so wonderful to know that I was able to help a family or individual to have one less stress in their life.”