Join Dennis Speigel, Founder & CEO of ITPS, for Episode 9 of the ITPS I’M4FUN Podcast. This episode features Ms. Pamela Landwirth, President & CEO of Give Kids the World Village. Since 1992, Pamela has helped navigate this amazing organization, which operates an 89-acre whimsical, non-profit resort in Kissimmee, Florida. Offering critically ill kids and their families week-long, cost-free wish vacations, these stays are transformative and are made possible by the support of generous donors, community partners, and volunteers. Join Dennis and Pamela for a memorable conversation about the Give Kids the World program, including its history, its short and long term goals, and its initiatives for advancements in the coming years. Pamela also shares her insights on the amusement industry and its support of the Give Kids the World program, and discusses how the program has had to adapt in 2020 as it moves into 2021. Don’t miss this unforgettable and heartwarming discussion.
About Pamela Landwirth
As President and CEO of Give Kids The World, Pamela Landwirth lives those words every day - inspiring a committed family of staff, volunteers and donors that make the Village possible. Pamela has been part of Give Kids The World since 1992, and was chosen to lead the Village in 1995. As President and CEO, she is responsible for the operations of the Village and all strategic advancement initiatives for the organization. Prior to joining the Village, Pamela developed an extensive background in resort operations management, human resource development, and project planning from her 16 years with the Walt Disney World Company. At Disney, she was involved in everything from Casting to park operations to attractions sales. After leaving Disney in 1993, Pamela was a consultant to the President and CEO of Hard Rock Cafe in all areas of human resources, organizational development, and strategic planning.
Thanks to everyone for joining us on January 13th when we welcomed Pamela Landwirth, President & CEO of Give Kids the World Village to our I’M4FUN Podcast. It was a great conversation, but we ran out of time to address all of the wonderful questions our live audience posed. Thank you to Pamela for providing follow-up answers to these questions below. For any further questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You mentioned that the pandemic delayed about 6,000 wishes during the 10-month closure of the Village. What are you doing to make sure those that had delayed wishes are fulfilled and to make them even better than expected?
Good question…thank you. We sent post cards and Boxes of Hope to the children whose wishes were postponed helping to lift their spirits and letting them know we would be here waiting for them when the time was right. We remained in constant contact with the wish granting organizations and have recently held webinars with all of those organizations letting them know we have re-opened and are ready to welcome families back to the Village. We are personalizing each wish as much as possible and of course enforcing all of our strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure everyone’s safety.
With the Village now just days from re-opening, what one thing are you most looking forward to at re-opening?
Being able to hear children’s laughter…to see the smiles on their faces…and see the stress melt away from the faces of the parents. And of course….serving ice cream for breakfast!
IAAPA was not able to have its events live in 2020. What was the impact of this to your program? And, how did the virtual events do in their place?
We have been blessed to partner with IAAPA since 1994 and each year the outpouring of love and support is overwhelming. We certainly missed the opportunity to see all our friends during the Expo in Orlando but were thrilled with their support of virtual events like the Footprints from the Heart Fun Run. Of course we were not able to hold the golf outing or the motorcycle run - two events that raise tens of thousands of precious dollars for our mission; however we are looking forward to getting back to “normal” this year. In addition, so many of our IAAPA partners were represented at our Night of a Million Lights event at the Village. And, I was privileged to speak as part of the Virtual Education Conference, so IAAPA kept us “front and center” throughout.
How much of your fundraising and donations come domestically versus internationally?
The vast majority of our donations come domestically versus internationally. Approximately 15% of our families come from outside of the United States each year.
No doubt you rely on generous donations from partners and from those who faithfully give to charities. How much do you rely on the planning of fundraising events, such as Night of a Million Lights, Coasting for Kids, or Hearts of Reality?
Events like those you mentioned are at the core of our fundraising efforts each year. The peer to peer fundraising that happens with events like Over the Edge, the Gingerbread Run, Coasting for Kids, etc., generate tremendous awareness and funds in support of our mission. We were overwhelmed by the success of Night of a Million Lights this year. We are still one of the world’s best kept secrets and do not have a presence outside of our one location, so we do not have the depth of individual giving like most charities that have offices/development teams in multiple locations have. Therefore, we do rely heavily on events.
Besides donations and fundraising events, how can any business or organization become involved to help.......as a partner in marketing efforts for instance?
There are many ways to support our mission. We focus on Give…Serve…Share…. Give of course references both cash and in-kind donations; Serve is volunteering; and Share, is helping us generate awareness for our mission. Each of these pillars is critical to our success. We always love to explore opportunities to engage new businesses and organizations in ways that are mutually beneficial.
Loved your book. One of my favorite chapters in the book is called “Champion Possibility”. In it, you talk about how successful companies remain open to exploring new ideas, what it means to listen to employees, and how customer service must be re-imagined. How would you say that we – as operators and suppliers of major attractions and theme parks – can put these philosophies into place especially in these challenging times?
Thank you for your kind words about my book. These are indeed challenging times and as we are all finding ourselves needing to do more with less, it is more important now than ever to have an engaged workforce. People are fearful of losing their jobs. It is easy to feel disconnected with so many people working remotely. Communication is imperative…over communicate with your teams. I hold weekly “We Got This” updates on Teams calls that all staff are invited to attend. We videotape them for those unable to participate live. We translate everything we do for those whom English is not their primary language. As I mentioned during the call, we focused on three pillars: getting show ready onstage and backstage; how we could use the Village to support other non-profits and to generate awareness and funds in a different way; and on strengthening our culture. I could write a book in answer to your question, so if you would like to reach out to discuss further, I would love to talk with you.
International Theme Park Services, Inc.
2195 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
United States of America