Daytona State Athletes Visit Give a Kid the World Village

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November 13th, 2015

Friday the 13th was less about superstitions and spooks and more about servant leadership for Daytona State Athletics.  The Falcon Student-Athlete Council and the Women’s Volleyball team partnered up to aid Give a Kid the World Village.

The Falcon Athletes left early Friday morning, to join Neal McCord and his staff on the 79 acre facility that serves over 125 families each week of the year.  Give a Kid the World Village partners with other charitable wish giving organizations to assist in granting wishes of young girls and boys who are struggling with life threatening illnesses.

To say the day was eye opening would be an understatement.  The Daytona State Athletes had an opportunity to tour the facilities of Give A Kid the World Village.  They learned about how this 14 million dollar operation fundraises all the necessary dollars so that every family that stays at the village spends nothing.  Their stay is free, meals free, airfare free, right down to the daily gifts provided to each child and tickets to the area amusement parks for the families.  The mission of the village is to bring joy and happiness to a child and their family as they struggle through the uncertainty and adversity of life threatening illnesses.

The athletes got to see the children firsthand as they toured the facility and listened to the stories of Mr. McCord and his account of over eleven years of experiences with these amazing children.  One story in particular brought emotions to the group.  As the athletes stood in the chapel at the village, Mr. McCord spoke about a young 3 year old boy that was extremely sick and death was imminent.  This young boy carried a blanket with him everywhere.  As they went into the chapel the mother and the boy prayed that he would soon be without pain and in peace.  Upon leaving the little boy insisted that he leave his blanket in the chapel.  His mother asked him if he was sure, because he never went anywhere without his blanket. The little boy told his mother that he wanted to leave it so that it would be in heaven, in the clouds waiting for him when he got there.

These opportunities to provide servant leadership not only provide our athletes with an opportunity to give back, but an opportunity to learn that their struggles though they may seem big, are not as insurmountable as they may appear.  Perspective was gained as the athletes took in Mr. McCord’s stories and personal experiences.

Not only did the athletes have an opportunity to tour the village, but they were given an opportunity to assist the staff at Give a Kid the World Village.  Some of the athletes were given the task of untangling Christmas lights and checking the bulbs, while others set up booths and tables for the Gingerbread 5K that would be running through Give a Kid the World Village on Saturday.  Our last group spent 3 hours in a warehouse perfecting the assembly line.  The athletes executed teamwork at the highest level as they assembled thousands of snack bags for the families to have upon their arrival at the airport in the next six months.

 This trip provided life lessons, perspective, and an opportunity to give back in time when entitlement and egocentrism runs ramped.  The athletes represented the college at the highest level, and were praised by the staff at Give a Kid the World Village for being some of the most productive and effective volunteers that they have had on-site.