Disclosure: We were invited to Disney Social Media Moms, we paid a nominal fee to attend this conference and learn more from industry leaders at Disney.
As you probably know by now, we had an amazing trip to Disneyworld this last week. It was a trip that has left me feeling completely inspired and energized to tackle some personal and professional projects in the coming weeks and months. Over the next few weeks, you can expect to hear all about Disney from our family. I wanted to launch this series by talking about how Disney has shifted my thinking as a mom. I know a lot of you are thinking, “say what?” but let me explain.
We had the opportunity to listen to some really, authentically wonderful speakers on this trip. One of those speakers was director of corporate citizenship, John Breckow. I feel his title is a bit confusing, but essentially, he’s responsible for some really remarkable philanthropy efforts. Honestly, when he was done with his speech, despite his comical antidotes there truly wasn’t a dry eye in the place. He was such an inspiring speaker, and I was elated we were able to listen to him twice in three days. My big take away professionally was to really evaluate my influence and figure how I can best garner that to spread more good in this world. I valued the reminder that serving others is the backbone of this blog. Learning so in depth about Disney’s philanthropic efforts has motivated beyond words, friends. Specifically, their work with Make a Wish foundation.
If you’ve read this blog for any period of time, then you’ve heard me say my father had childhood cancer, and died in his early twenties after battling Leukemia for more of his life than not. Make a Wish was started several years after his childhood years, but the impact they’ve made alongside Disneyworld and Disneyland and the Disney family in general blew me away. Previously, I had been under the impression that Disney probably just provided the families with free admission or free lodging or maybe even both? I had no idea they were providing this families experiencing such trauma with tailored opportunities like cooking with specific chefs after years of having tasted one of his meals or allowing a young boy to fulfill his life’s dream of driving a robot.
How do they bring this things to fruition and more importantly how does any of this make me a better parent? They do it by simply saying yes whenever they possibly can. Over the course of our obscenely inspirational conference, we were introduced to the stories of several real-life families who have been impacted by the overwhelming kindness and joy that Disney has brought to families for decades. Stories that honestly, we rarely hear about in traditional media because they aren’t concerned with getting the photo opportunities or the praise, they are concerned with the families. One such story was that of Ritchie, born with Downs Syndrome, Leukemia, and a seizure condition. I can hardly tell this story as eloquently as John Breckow did but the essence is that several times in his 26 years, he was given awful prognoses, and each step of the way, Disney was there for him. At one point, he was placed on hospice care and Belle went by his bedside to dance with him. He’d been an avid fan for most of his life, and when Disney surprised him by giving him a name sake inspired by his favorite movie at City of Hope, Ritchie’s Reading Corner, he returned the favor by showing up healthy. Sometime later, he found himself with only months to live and his last wish was to be an employee of Disneyland. They “hired” him to pass out popcorn and with the support of the staff he was able to do this on a Friday before passing away on that same Sunday night. I’m sure the Leukemia component didn’t help or perhaps it was the beautiful videos and photos that accompanied the story, but this story almost had me running from the room. I could feel the deep love the staff and voluntEARS had for this man and his family, the emotion was real and it was moving. Quite frankly, I have only scratched the surface of the beautiful stories they shared. Disney say yes when they can, right down to the cast members in the parks. I spent a lot of time thinking how can this translate into my parenting? The answer was pretty simple, I could say yes more often in my own home. What if I could somehow spread similar Disney magic within my home’s walls? If no one is getting hurt, if it brings a little extra happiness in our home, what can it really hurt? These yes moments don’t have to be expensive, they can be as simple and as small as one extra book at bedtime or one quick video about Huskies on YouTube. When you hear stories like this you are reminded how short life can be. That has an impact! I’m opting to parent the Disney way, with the help of Jesus and Pixie Dust.