In 2007, when wish kid Valerie was granted a wish trip, her parents, doctors, and wish-granting organization – Dreams Come True of Jacksonville – hurried to make arrangements. Given Valerie’s condition back then, no one knew how much time they had to work with.
Soon, 3-year-old Valerie and her family were whisked away to Give Kids The World Village, where Valerie’s star was placed in the Castle of Miracles and she rode the Enchanted Carousel more times than they could count.
Now 14 years old, Valerie returns to Central Florida to relive her memories of the Village.
“It feels like coming home,” said Valerie’s mom, Celeste. “We didn’t know if she would make it, but I can honestly say we regained hope here.”
The family’s visit coincided with a special evening: Hearts of Reality, an event that brings together more than 100 reality stars from hit shows like Survivor, Big Brother, and the Amazing Race.
As fans of the hit CBS show Survivor, they knew they couldn’t pass up meeting some of their favorite stars from the show.
The event returned to Give Kids The World Village on August 10, and with it, Valerie and her family. The reality stars flooded the Village, dressed as pirates, princesses and other characters. They interacted with wish families and got to see exactly what their fundraising does and who it helps.
With parties, an autograph signing, and other exciting events, the ticket sales and fundraising for Hearts of Reality has almost reached its goal of $175,000.
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the reality stars and event supporters, families like Valerie’s get the chance to make precious memories together and a much-needed break from the challenges of facing a critical illness.