Orlando Attractions Splitsville Blogger Bowl for Give Kids The World

On Thursday, September 12, 2013 Orlando Attractions Magazine will host “Blogger Bowl,” a fundraising event for Give Kids The World Village at Downtown Disney’s Splitsville Luxury Lanes.  Bloggers and podcasters from all over the area will gather their writers and friends to form teams of 5 to compete in a bowling tournament, raise money, and, most of all, have fun.  From 11am – 2pm, there will be prizes, a live DJ, lunch and dessert, all provided for the $25 admission fee.  100% of all funds raised will be donated to Give Kids The World.  I can’t attend the event in person, but our videographer extraordinaire, John Saccheri from BigFatPanda.com, has agreed to participate, and he has a very important reason why.  John spent a week at Give Kids The World Village, and is raising money in memory of his cousin, wish child Matthew DeSantis.  Continue reading for all the details from John.

Give Kids The World Attractions Blogger Bowl

Matthew was only 12 years old when he passed away of Leukemia.  He was my cousin.

MatthewI was 19 at the time.  7 years doesn’t sound like a lot of years, but at that age, it was enormous.  He looked up to me soooo much I can’t write this without tears streaming down my face.  Ya see, as you might know, I am a Disney maniac fan and Matthew picked this up from me, always wanting to know about the rides and shows.  He thought the Electrical Parade Music was great.  His family had little means and he had never been to Disney World or even on a vacation at all for that matter.  I thought I would be able to take him one day.  I just didn’t know under what gloomy circumstances.

Procedure after procedure, things were looking bad.  He underwent a Bone Marrow transplant in the state of Washington.  I remember him calling me while he was on his way back home to New York.

“Uncle John, they say I am going to die!”  Yes, he called me Uncle even though I was his cousin.  I was not prepared or briefed on how to respond to this 12 year old that flat out told me, in all calmness, that he was going to pass soon.  I simply said something to the effect of “No you’re not” and continued to plan his return visit home.

The Make A Wish Foundation and Give Kids The World contacted the family, and I was thrilled to find out that Matthews wish was to see Walt Disney World.  But get this – I was part of his wish.  It was not just to visit DisneyWorld but I was listed as needing to come along.  I saw the paper that read “I want to visit DisneyWorld with my family but we must have Uncle John included.”  It took me 10 minutes to type that line – this is hard – even 20 years later – WOW!!!

Without detailing everything I remember, GKTW Village was amazing and accommodating to the family.  Matthew was weak and in a wheelchair at this time.  He had a mediport installed close to his heart for easy access to giving him medicines.  I remember his mother Camille whom I love dearly, happy that the shower had some mediport cleaner and all.  The Village just screamed “relax, let the sickness be put on hold for this week.”

The highlight for me was the Haunted Mansion.  He wanted to go in the worst way even though I felt the subject matter might be macabre at this time.  He separated it and wasn’t thinking bad in the midst of Disney.  BUT, he wanted to see the whole thing.  He didn’t want to skip the “stretching room” as all wheelchair guests did at that time.  I lifted him out of the wheelchair and we laughed like crazy.  He was in my arms like a big baby being held the whole time.  It didn’t matter how much my arms hurt – he was doing it the regular way and that’s all that mattered.  It was an amazing time – and the memories would never have been possible without the help of Give Kids The World.  And they never made you feel anything but Welcome.

Reality quickly set in upon returning home – Approximately 3 days after our Walt Disney World extravaganza, Matthew simply let go and passed away.  I still don’t quite understand what happened or why and will always question how the God I believe in allows such things but I realize it’s not for me to know everything and I go on.

With that, I ask you to PLEASE donate SOMETHING (any amount) in Matthews memory to give another child an AMAZING experience with his or her family.  The details of the event are also in the link.  THANK YOU SO MUCH! BIG HUGS!


For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About John Saccheri

John Saccheri has been rooted in the Disney culture from childhood. John only had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World once, at the age of 5. After returning home, he never stopped talking about it, yearning to return. His parents were worried about this “obsession,” but John began working at the age of 12 with a focus on saving up for the next Disney trip. He was able to visit Disney World at least once a year from 14 years old onward. Today, a successful entrepreneur, John was able to move from his hometown of Long Island, New York, to Central Florida to be close to the Mouse. Going to the parks still seems like a fantasy to him!