International Friendship Day is here and Disney is honored to reveal the first winners of the Disney Magic Makers contest! Marla Zwinggi, of Chagrin Falls, OH, and Stacey Bene, of Medina, OH, built a friendship that changed the lives of thousands of families in their community. The real kicker… this friendship is only a few months old.
Before meeting each other, Marla and Stacey had both discovered that elderly and at-risk members of their community were struggling to gain access to vaccines due to vaccination appointments only being made available online, oftentimes through portals that were difficult to navigate.
After making appointments for her parents, Marla began making vaccination appointments for her best friends’ parents and from there, her actions began to snowball until one day she had scheduled appointments for 200 adults. Marla was celebrated on her local news and that is when Stacey’s mom took notice and immediately phoned her daughter.
“My mom said ‘turn on your tv, there’s a woman doing exactly what you’re doing. I think you should meet her’,” Stacey explained.
Across town, Stacey had been working to secure vaccination appointments for her parents and other elderly and at-risk residents in her neighborhood. After speaking to her mother, Stacey reached out to Marla on Facebook and offered to help. “As soon as I got Stacey’s message, I just felt like I was destined to meet this person,” Marla recalled.
Marla and Stacey began working together virtually, spending about 10 hours a day for several months organizing vaccination appointments for adults when appointments were nearly impossible to get. They became friends through these efforts and became known locally as the “VacQueens,” short for Vaccine Queens. News of their goodwill spread and before they knew it, the National Guard reached out for their help.
They worked with them to expand their efforts and when the National Guard would notify them of leftover, unused, vaccines that had to be utilized quickly, Marla and Stacey helped ensure that no vaccine went to waste. “Anybody who was having difficulty finding an appointment, we took on the urgency of trying to get them that appointment as soon as possible… and what I love about working with Marla is we as a team never said we couldn’t do something,” said Stacey.
Though Marla and Stacey have only met five times face-to-face, to-date, they’ve secured vaccination appointments for over 2,300 adults in their community. Marla and Stacey’s heroics have earned them the title of “Disney Magic Makers” and are being honored for International Friendship Day with an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World to celebrate the 50th anniversary and one year subscription to Disney+.
To nominate the best friend in your life who’s made a positive contribution to their community, visit DisneyMagicMakers.com.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter contest between June 22, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. ET and October 1, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., who are 18 years of age at time of entry. Nominees must be at least 13 years of age at time of nomination. Limit 5 entries per person. See Official Rules for full details on how to enter, eligibility requirements, contest entry periods, prize description and limitations. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, Inc., 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521.