Here at Walt Disney World Resort, our cast members have played a big role in bringing more than 145,000 Disney-inspired wishes to life over the last 40 years alongside our friends at Make-A-Wish®. The transformative power of a wish come true is one of the many reasons why so many of us remain passionate about this organization, and earlier this week, nearly 200 of my fellow cast members participated in Orlando’s Walk for Wishes supporting Make-A-Wish Central & Northern Florida to help raise more than $8,500 to help grant future wishes.
“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,” said Billy Dempsey, a cast member and Walk for Wishes project lead. “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.”
As a current Disney cast member and Make-A-Wish alumni, Abron Kelly knows this impact firsthand and has always cherished giving back to other wish recipients, both at our resort and across our community.
“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 Abron. “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.”
Madyson Townsend, another wish alum and Disney cast member, also remembers the profound impact of the wish trip she and her brother got to experience together. They were both born with immune deficiencies, and they visited Walt Disney World in 2000 on his wish trip.
“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.”
Abron and Madyson are incredible examples of how powerful Disney’s stories, characters and immersive experiences are for those in need around the world. As cast members, they now get to spread that same happiness and positivity they experienced during their wish trips – and that is truly what the #DisneyCastLife is all about.
Walk for Wishes joins other recent wish granting efforts here at Walt Disney World like welcoming wish families as the first travelers aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, launching a specialty license plate that’s raised $1.5 million for Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida so far and more (if you’re a Florida resident, learn more about how to get our special 50th anniversary license plate design while supplies last). Visit DisneyWorldGivesBack.com to read all about these activations and other ways we’re supporting our community.