Henri Landwirth, Give Kids the World founder, passes away at age 91

April 17, 2018, 1:40 PM · Henri Landwirth, who founded Give Kids the World, the Orlando facility that hosted vacations for critically ill children and their families, has passed away at age 91.

Landwirth, 91, founded Give Kids the World in 1986 and was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame last fall for his leadership of the organization. Here is his presentation video, courtesy IAAPA.

A native of Belgium, Landwirth survived the Holocaust before emigrating to America after the war and eventually entering the hotel business. He passed away Monday.

Replies (3)

April 17, 2018 at 5:55 PM ·

So sad to hear. Give kids the world has brought so much joy to so many kids and their families. His legacy will live on though through that amazing organization

April 18, 2018 at 9:45 AM ·

I've worked many Angle shifts at the village. One of the most memorable was when I took my Mom along when she was visiting from Atlanta. She really didn't have any idea where we were going or what we'd be doing, but as soon as we got to the village, and understood what it was all about she got extremely emotional.
My usual gig was to drive the breakfast cart around the Village delivering to-go food to families heading out to the parks for the day. On this morning she and I worked a shift at the Gingerbread house helping families get their trays from the buffet to their tables and then help clear tables as people finished their meals. There is a lot of interaction with the Wish Families in this role and I could tell my Mom was moved by their situations but more so with the absolute joy they were experiencing being in this place and having these experiences. We were never able to work out our schedules so that I could take her back on subsequent visits to Orlando, but she said it was one of her favorite things she ever did.
I don't believe the Village allows individuals to do one off shifts. There is a very rigorous background investigation to be an individual volunteer. Last I knew, they welcome groups to come work as volunteers. If any TPI readers get the opportunity to go to the village and do a shift, I can not recommend it highly enough. You will have a whole new understanding for the groups you see in the parks wearing the GKTW buttons, and will understand why the employees in the parks bend over backwards to be sure they get the very best treatment possible.

April 18, 2018 at 11:09 AM ·

Orlando is basically a small town with a big city economy. Working in construction projecty management the opportunities for providing services that benefit the community are plentiful. A couple of years ago, I began working with the team at GKTWV. An attorney friend had asked that I meet with their management to see if I could assist with the construction of a spa building.

The decision whether or not to lend a hand was a no brainer. The mission and history of the GKTWV are extraordinary. It's heartwrenching to walk around and see the families -- knowing that in a short period of time one of the children might be gone. Every week the Village celebrates Halloween and Christmas -- ostensibly because some of the children may not be with us when these holidays arrive on the calendar.

Again, I knew before that first visit that my company would step up and contribute. But that commitment grew exponentially when I walked inside the Castle of Miracles. The ceiling inside this charming castle is covered in stars. Thousands and thousands of stars. Each one representing a child that had visited the village.

Since then we have helped rebuild the Village's fishing pier, provided construction materials for the spa and completed a patchwork of interior finishing, paint and carpentry services. From my perspective these efforts were not in any way a sacrifice nor a contribution. Rather, the opportunity to play a VERY small part in what Mr. Landwirth, his family and their compatriots have created represents the very richest of blessings.

Rest peacefully, kind man.

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