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A Grandfather’s Gift

There’s a little house in Pennsylvania, tucked away in a backyard, where the fairytales and magic of Give Kids The World Village live. This blue playhouse with yellow trim and a purple roof holds more within its walls than two little girls dreaming of star fairies and six-foot-tall bunny rabbits; it’s a place where love, hope and family are held close.

Ed, fondly known as Pop Pop by his two granddaughters, visited Give Kids The World Village with his family in 2017 on a Welcome Back visit to commemorate granddaughter Katelin’s 2016 wish trip. He had heard their many stories of how this place they called “the Village” was the “best week ever,” and after watching Katelin go through so much due to PHACE syndrome, including brain surgery at age three, he was eager to see the magic for himself.

Pop Pop was amazed by everything there was to do at the Village with his granddaughters. They rode rides, ate endless ice cream, and explored their favorite places while they shared memories from the wish that provided hope after such a dark time.

“My dad loved the beauty and the peacefulness of the Village,” said wish mom and Ed’s daughter, Lisa. “He loved how kind and compassionate everyone was. But I think the thing that he loved most was seeing how happy Katelin and Emma were while he was there with them.”

Their Welcome Back visit was filled with many special moments; but one extra-special experience which they will cherish for a lifetime was seeing villa 263, where Katelin and her family stayed during their wish. Pop Pop was in awe of the whimsical accommodations! While reflecting on the trip, Lisa shared the magnitude of what experiencing Give Kids The World and this moment meant to her father. 

“I think spending time at the Village with Katelin gave my dad hope and helped to bring peace to his heart after watching his granddaughter struggle through so much.”      

Pop Pop returned home with renewed optimism.  Inspired to create a piece of the storybook Village for his granddaughters to have at home, he crafted a replica of villa 263 for Emma and Katelin as a permanent reminder of the magical place that has meant so much to his family.

“My dad put his entire heart and soul into building the playhouse. It meant the world to him,” said Lisa. “We talked about the Village and our trip so much when we came home, and he was so happy that he was able to experience the place that uplifted our family in such a profound way. My dad loved his grandchildren fiercely. He was always by our side supporting us through everything that Katelin has been through since before she was even born.”

Earlier this year, Pop Pop passed away, but his love for his girls hasn’t faded. When Lisa and her family look out into their back yard at the bright, whimsical playhouse, they see a place that he created with immense adoration.

Katelin and Emma love playing in their playhouse, and whenever they need to feel close to their Pop Pop, they spend time there.

They’ve added a few extra touches of Village magic in remembrance of Pop Pop, including a butterfly chair; a flag with a photo of Pop Pop and the girls standing outside the playhouse; his Give Kids The World Village hat; and a special letter from Pop Pop to his girls.

“Give Kids The World Village – Katelin’s Make-A-Wish Trip on October 20, 2016 (Disney World), it started here.

To my KittyCat & Emmalicious. One year later Mom Mom and Pop Pop surprised you at the condo in Orlando, FL. The first place we all went to was Give Kids The World. This visit changed my life! So in the summer of 2019, I had to make a copy of the house you stayed in, just for you both. When you think of Pop Pop know I love you so much! You are my world!!!”

While remembering her father, Lisa said, “this playhouse means so much to us and we are so thankful to not only have a piece of the Village, but also a piece of my dad with us every day.”

In memory of Pop Pop, an incredibly kind and generous man who loved his granddaughters fiercely.


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