The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been granting the wishes of terminally and critically ill children for more than four decades. One of the most popular wishes? A trip to Walt Disney World! Disney is a passionate partner in the foundation, and earlier this week, Cast Members joined together to help raise money to grant wishes.
More than 200 Cast Members came together to participate in Orlando’s Walk for Wishes, which raises money to grant future wishes. Together they raised just over $8,500 for the organization.
Billy Dempsey, a Cast Member and Walk for Wishes project lead, said, “As Disney cast members, we make magic every day, and it means the world to me that we’re able to do that for wish kids who come to our parks through events like this. The money we raised together means more kids are going to have wonderful and exciting experiences that they have never had before, and that’s really special.”
A wish has the power to do so much to bring joy and even healing to wish families. No one knows that better than current Cast Members and former Wish Recipients Abron Kelly and Madyson Townsend. Both received Disney World trips from the Make-A-Wish Foundation as children and grew up to make wishes come true for others every day at the Walt Disney World Resort.
“I’m so grateful for the cast members that help support Make-A-Wish. You have no idea unless you’ve been in the shoes of a sick child or family member how much the magic you create for them means,” said Kelly. “I know from personal experience how a wish can provide an escape – a chance to just be a kid and not even think about what illness you have. It’s such a wonderful experience, and I still think about my wish trip to this day.”
Madison Townsend went with her brother, Blake, on his Wish Trip to Disney World in 2000 while they battled an immune deficiency that both were born with, and her brother, unfortunately, succumbed to.
“My brother Blake chose to go to Walt Disney World so that we could ride Buzz Lightyear together,” Madyson said. “It was the only vacation Blake, and I had together because he passed away a few years later. I don’t have a lot of solid memories with him, but I remember that trip – not necessarily what rides we rode or what shows we saw, but I remember the cast we interacted with and the special moments we shared. The thought of creating the same joy that was given to Blake and I is what led me to becoming a cast member.”
Walk For Wishes is just one of the many fundraising events that Cast Members and the Walt Disney Company participate in each year. Over their 40-year partnership, Disney has helped raise millions of dollars for the charity. To learn how you can help, click here.