It was a moment Lt. Colonel Shannon Patrick Thompson and his family had waited years for, the chance to thank a United States postal worker from Virginia who literally kept Thompson’s family connected while he served our country in Afghanistan.
During his deployment Thompson provided much needed medical attention to men, women and children who were sick or injured by the tragedies of war. While this Naval officer provided distinguished service, his wife Irene and daughter remained back home in Virginia trying to maintain life as normal as possible. Providing care packages to her husband became vital in an attempt to keep that normalcy. This is where a hometown hero entered their life and provided the bridge of support the family needed. Ron Johnson, a postal worker in Salem, VA, provided the shipping expertise and words of encouragement Irene needed to get through those tough days of deployment – every time she came to the post office
Working with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Walt Disney World Resort, Thompson and his family were able to thank Johnson in an amazing way with a trip to Walt Disney World Resort for him and his fiancé. A trip filled with one-of-a-kind surprises and an emotional reunion with the Thompson family. Unforgettable moments shared with the nation this morning on “Good Morning America“.
Following the reunion, both families were treated to a Thanksgiving feast and spent time together at Magic Kingdom Park. Unforgettable moments filled with tears of happiness, laughter and thankfulness.
We salute all the men and women in our armed services and the everyday people who make a difference in our communities by lending a helping hand.
With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, Disney Cruise Line crew members volunteered at local food pantries to help with Thanksgiving preparations in communities near our Florida homeports in Port Canaveral and Miami, and in Galveston, Texas.
Last Saturday, Disney VoluntEARS from the Disney Fantasy cruise ship in town for the day in Port Canaveral sorted and stocked more than 9,000 pounds of food at the Sharing Center of Central Brevard, an organization that provides emergency assistance to those in need.
Take a look at those crew members in action and hear why they wanted to support this great cause.
Over Thanksgiving, the Sharing Center is serving dinner and assisting 250 local families with meal baskets. Donated food is also distributed at the Sharing Center’s Emergency Food Pantry year round, which provides an estimated 8 tons of food monthly to residents living within Central Brevard County.
Crew members from both the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic also volunteered at local food banks in port communities surrounding Galveston, Texas and Miami, Florida last week. Throughout the year, our Disney Cruise Line cast and crew members contribute thousands of hours of their personal time to support great causes.
How do you and your family give back this time year?
You know that feeling you get on Christmas morning when you discover your stocking filled with goodies? What if you could give that gift to someone AND make a difference for the children of Anaheim?
I stopped by The Stocking Project chalet in the Downtown Disney Winter Village and had that same feeling when I saw their handcrafted stockings, filled to the brim with gifts from Downtown Disney District businesses! As John mentioned last week, Working to Give is selling these one-of-a-kind gifts, stitched by local artisans. The best part is that all net proceeds from your $99 stocking purchase will benefit ACT Anaheim, which supports much-needed youth programs in our community.
The Downtown Disney Winter Village is open Monday–Thursday, 3–6 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 2–11 p.m.; and Sunday, 2–10 p.m.
Don’t miss this opportunity to create some holiday magic … and give a gift that gives back to our community!
Our parks and resorts around the world give families and loved ones opportunities to make lasting memories together, and that vision continues to drive our citizenship efforts. We are committed to nurture, inspire, and empower kids and families by bringing them together to make lasting change in the world. Last weekend, our VoluntEARS around the world celebrated Family Volunteer Day. Now in its 25th year, this coordinated effort is a national day of service organized by generationOn and sponsored by Disney Friends for Change.
At Disneyland Resort, guests and Disney VoluntEARS made more than 5,000 snack packs for the Orange County Food Bank, wrote postcards to service men and women and built butterfly garden kits for after-school programs. VoluntEARS also spent time assembling food boxes at the Orange County Food Bank.
Walt Disney World guests, cast and their families created 500 Clean the World toiletry kits for Families in Transition in Osceola County. Participants also wrote postcards for Operation Uplift and greeting cards for local children’s hospitals to bring extra smiles for the holiday season. The Disney Kids and Family Zone also stopped by to provide some healthy snacks, fun games and a photo area for even more lasting memories.
VoluntEARS and families from Hong Kong Disneyland refreshed a local campsite for the Physically Handicapped and Able-Bodied Association (PHAB). This is the first campsite in Hong Kong to promote inclusiveness and socialization among visitors, and the work of the VoluntEARS will help even more people to enjoy the space.
Tokyo Disney Resort cast members and their family joined hands with other community volunteers to clean the shoreline of their local Kasai Rinkai Park. VoluntEARS spent the day helping to preserve the park’s pristine nature for everyone to enjoy.
Thank you to all the resort guests and Disney VoluntEARS who joined together for Family Volunteer Day. This is just one of many ways Walt Disney Parks and Resorts VoluntEARS donate hundreds of thousands of hours every single year. Read more about how The Walt Disney Company participated in Family Volunteer Day on the Disney Post.
Are you an exemplary Orange County, Calif., high school student driving positive change in your home, school or community? Now is the time to be selected as part of the first class of Disneyland Resort Dreamers & Doers and have the opportunity to earn a $1,000 grant for your school, or be selected to receive a Disneyland Resort weekend package to enjoy!
A couple of months ago, I shared a video with you about a few students and what they DREAM about, and what they DO to make those dreams a reality. I know there are many young people out there with similar stories to tell about the great things they’ve accomplished, whether that be by conserving nature, inspiring others to be creative or live healthfully, or bringing hope and happiness to the community.
The application window is drawing to a close! If you or someone you know is making a difference in your community, apply by November 20 by submitting a completed application to your high school’s main office. We can’t wait to hear your stories!
During a special ceremony last night, Make-A-Wish celebrated the 100,000th Disney wish, marking a momentous milestone in the organization’s 35-year relationship with The Walt Disney Company. Together, Disney and Make-A-Wish bring comfort and smiles to wish kids and families when they need it most.
“It’s amazing to think that 35 years ago, Make-A-Wish granted its very first wish at the Disneyland Resort, which sparked a legacy of fulfilling wishes that has captured so many hearts,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “It’s wonderful to celebrate our 100,000th wish together, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing smiles and laughter to wish children and their families.”
On the giant water screens at Rivers of America, Make-A-Wish shared the story of seven-year-old Luke’s dream to visit Disneyland Resort with his entire family. Luke spent several fun-filled days visiting the parks – sharing magical moments with Lightning McQueen and Mater in Radiator Springs, meeting Anna and Elsa, and enjoying special viewings of World of Color – Celebrate!, the Paint the Night Parade and Disneyland Forever Fireworks Spectacular.
Nearly 8,000 Disney wishes are granted every year – including experiences at Disney Parks, voyages on Disney Cruise Line, and visits to TV and movie sets. We’re proud to lend our support to Make-A-Wish and help families make lasting memories together.
It’s no secret that our cast and crew members are amazing. Not only do they work to create magical moments for our guests each and every day at sea, but they donate thousands of hours of their personal time each year to benefit worthwhile causes in port communities around the world.
This past Saturday is a perfect example. Disney Cruise Line VoluntEARS from the Disney Fantasy – in port for less than a day – gave back to their home port community of Brevard County. On their day off, they picked up hammers and nails to help build an ADA accessible boardwalk that leads to a brand new park pavilion.
The Pine Island Conservation Area boasts nearly 900-acres and is a great place for guests to observe and connect with nature. The new pavilion will provide shade and mosquito protection for park guests year round, even in Florida’s hottest months. Because of the hard work of our VoluntEARS, all guests will now have access to the pavilion and park experiences, ensuring that the conservation area can serve as a place for education for everyone.
Here’s a look at the team in action.
In collaboration with Disney, ESPN and ABC, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) supported this project through the NRPA’s Parks Build Community program, which provided 16 communities with resources to improve local parks, connect kids with nature, help kids and families live healthier, and increase kids’ access to sports. The Pine Island Conservation Area received a $20,000 grant for improvements.
This year continues to be magical for the Disneyland Resort. In the midst of celebrating our 60th anniversary, the cast members of the Disneyland Resort had an amazing time last weekend helping to celebrate another momentous community milestone – the 25th anniversary of CHOC Walk in the Park.
CHOC Children’s is one of the most important health organizations in our community. It is hard to meet someone in the area who hasn’t been touched by the great work that they do. The CHOC Walk, one the hospital’s largest annual fundraising events, is also among the most popular community events for our cast. Hundreds of Disney cast members were among the walkers who raised awareness and money for this wonderful organization.
In addition to my role at the Disneyland Resort, I am also very fortunate to sit on the board of directors at CHOC Children’s. I get to see firsthand all of the wonderful things they do on a daily basis. More importantly, I get exposure to how they plan to address Orange County’s greatest needs.
One of our community’s largest opportunities is in mental health services for our youth. According to CHOC, one in five children has a diagnosable mental health disorder. That adds up to about 150,000 kids in our community. However, Orange County has no inpatient psychiatric services for children under 12 and very limited services for adolescents.
I was very happy to learn that CHOC Children’s is starting a mental health initiative to specifically address this need. I am also excited to share that the Disneyland Resort is matching the funds raised by our cast members for the CHOC Walk in support of the new mental health initiative. In total, our cast and resort is contributing $250,000 to its new program.
I want to thank all of the walkers and sponsors of CHOC Children’s. Your support throughout the years helps to ensure a healthy and happy future for Orange County.
‘CAN’ you pick a favorite superhero?
“The Incredibles” has always been a favorite movie of mine, so I was amazed when a team of 50 Disney VoluntEARS used more than 7,500 cans of food to create a structure of the family during the recent CANstruction Orlando competition. Over the course of a few hours, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, along with their kids, Violet and Dash, took shape from layers of mixed vegetables, tomato sauce, fruits and other canned food items.
The Orlando Chapter of CANstruction, whose mission is to feed and inspire the world, has organized an annual competition since 1994 to design and build sculptures made entirely out of canned goods. After the competition, all of the food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank, a local organization that supports thousands of families in need through programs like Kids Café, an after-school initiative that feeds more than 1,400 children a day.
Take a look at this video of Disney VoluntEARS at work to see how everything stacked up. And, you can get in on the action! View the dozens of entries and vote for your favorite on Facebook this week as part of the Patron’s Choice award.
The theme for this year’s event was “Hunger Heroes.” While the Incredibles may be the ones with superpowers, it’s all of the extraordinary volunteers who are the real superheroes for helping to create hope through hunger relief.
On Sunday, Oct. 11, the 25th annual CHOC Walk in the Park supporting CHOC Children’s will return to the Disneyland Resort during the Diamond Celebration.
Since its inception, CHOC Walk in the Park has raised nearly $23 million for CHOC Children’s, supporting a variety of patient and family programs, as well as education, research, and the development of the latest technologies to advance the health of CHOC patients.
Here are the top three ways you can help support CHOC Walk this year:
1. Sleep in and make a difference as a “sleeping bear”
Registering as a “sleeping bear” is a great way to raise funds and earn CHOC Walk rewards all while sleeping in on Sunday morning.
2. Party with your ‘ohana at the CHOC Walk Ambassador’s Luau at the Disneyland Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 10
Have you practiced your hula dancing lately? This new event is hosted by the CHOC Ambassadors, six courageous children who represent all the other children at CHOC and their medical journeys. Enjoy live Polynesian entertainment, luau-inspired food, face painting, a silent auction and more. The CHOC Walk Ambassador’s Luau will take place from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom in the Disneyland Hotel.
3. Put on your walking shoes and join us at the CHOC Walk on Sunday, Oct. 11
The walk covers three miles through Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park, where you’ll get a special peek at the magic of the Disneyland Resort before the parks open to the general public.
Tickets and registration for these events are available at CHOCWalk.org. If you are joining us for these events, share your experience with #CHOCWalk!