Guardians of Justice were invited to attend the annual event “Make ‘em smile” presented by Nathaniel’s Hope at downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola park on Saturday, June 4th. The day was warm and muggy as five characters gathered at Bright Start Pediatrics’ tent to take photos and interact with the children.
Nathaniel’s Hope has been hosting this annual event for fourteen years now and Guardians of Justice has been in attendance for three of those wonderful 14! We saw so many familiar faces from years past!
This event is special because everything is set up with VIP Kids and their extended families in mind. The organization defines VIP kids as: “any kids with special needs including any physical, cognitive, medical or hidden disability, chronic or life threatening illness, or those who are medically fragile.” Volunteers, Booth Attendants and even other attendees know that the children who are VIP are given preferential treatment, and everyone does their best to make sure these special ones are happy and able to participate in activities with as minimal a wait as possible.
There is always a large “Kids Zone” set up on one of the park lawns complete with games and bounce houses. Children can meet Pirates and Knights from local dinner theater attractions, mascots from restaurants like Chuck-e-Cheese and Chick-fil-A and even some of their favorite cartoon characters come to life from Universal Studios!
Closer to home our own Guardians interacted with attendees as they posed for photos and greeted children in a seemingly never ending procession. Last year’s event count was over 40,000 people and this year was projected to be just as busy.
One of Andy’s Green Army men received special permission from Sarge to attend the event, using his binoculars to take in all the action and radioing back reports to Andy’s Room.
Periwinkle came all the way from Neverland’s Winter Woods to visit the mainland and used special pixie dust to make herself the size of the clumsies (humans), her wings covered in a practically invisible coat of frost to keep them safe in the summer heat. Children kept asking her where her sister Tinkerbell was as Periwinkle laughed and played. After all, it takes a lot of pixie dust to visit the mainland, and this it Tink’s busy season.
Every single year Guardians of Justice looks forward to the Nathaniel’s Hope Make ‘Em Smile event and all the joy it brings. You can find out more about Nathaniel and Make ‘Em Smile here: http://www.nathanielshope.org