Give Kids the World Village opens gates for annual 5K

Challenge for Hope 5K Saturday, Dec. 8

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – On your mark, get set, go: The annual Challenge for Hope 5k is getting ready to kick off at the Give Kids the World Village, and rabbit Mayor Clayton, of Give Kids the World Village, is starting to warm up his paws.

"It's just a great day. There's music, there's entertainment, there's food, there's ice cream--anything you can possibly want in a morning, you can get here on Saturday morning," Kristina Berkeley, a volunteer said.

The 5K on Dec. 8 is the only time during the year that the village opens its gates to people who aren't volunteers or families. It's an opportunity to showcase what the village is all about, said CEO and President Pamela Landwirth.

Proceeds from the event will help continue the Give Kids the World mission.

"We are the destination for children from around the world who share two common bonds: (they're) between the ages of 3 and 18 and have a critical illness and one wish -- to visit all the magic that Central Florida has to offer. We provide the accommodations, the meals, the attraction tickets," Landwirth said.

The village has 166 villas where families stay for a week where they can disconnect from hospital visits and difficult moments they encounter while their child is battling a severe illness.

"By the time they get here, many times, they're at the end of their rope. They're just tired of all of those things of those day-to-day challenges," Landwirth said.

Runners will pass through different zones and run into famous movie characters like "Star Wars" stormtroopers and familiar faces from "Ghost Busters," as well as Batman and Superman.

"You can stop when you're running and take photos, they have them before and after. It's really a lot of fun. And you don't have the long lines like you do other places," Berkeley said.

Participants don't need to be avid runners to enter the race.

After the runners cross the finish line, each participant will get a ribbon with a medal that was designed by a former wish kid.

For information about registering for the Challenge for Hope 5K or to donate visit www.challengeforhope.org.

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