ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Orange County fifth grader is using his talents to raise awareness and money for Give Kids the World.
At 11 years old, Kellen Jackley is a Give Kids the World Child Ambassador. He first visited the resort in 2014 as a Make-A-Wish trip.
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Give Kids the World provides a weeklong, cost-free vacations for critically ill children and their families from around the world.
“I was actually born with half a heart and I had five open-heart surgeries. From going to surgery and yucky medicine to just running around in a water park and having ice cream for breakfast, it was amazing and so magical,” Jackley said.
Jackley’s family loved their wish trip so much, they actually relocated to Central Florida to be closer to Give Kids the World.
“We were like, why don’t we just move to Florida? So we moved to Florida and closer to Give Kids,” he said.
Now as a Child Ambassador, Jackley speaks at events, sharing his experiences with the organization. He was awarded the 2021 Be Great! Humanitarian Award at Walt Disney World for his efforts, including auctioning a painting that raised more than $8,000 for Give Kids the World. He calls the painting From Darkness to Light and said it depicts how he felt walking into the village for the first time.
“So all of the darkness represents when I was in the hospital with yucky medicine and surgery, and all this light represents when I walked into GKTW village and all that darkness is just fading away.”
Not only is Jackley an artist, but he also spotlights famous visitors to Give Kids the World Village on his YouTube Channel PHLorida FUNatics.
He interviews stars of hit shows like “Survivor,” “Big Brother,” and “Amazing Race.” But he says his all-time favorite interview is Mark Long from The Challenge, aka ‘The Godfather of Reality TV.’
“I was obviously starstruck, but like being next to a very famous person and asking them a few questions is awesome and I loved it so much. It’s like the best thing I’ve ever done. It was just really a fun interview and I love that interview so much,” he said.
News 6 Anchor Julie Broughton asked Jackley if he had any tips for her on conducting interviews.
“I say just live in the moment, to be honest,” Jackley said.
As for future plans, Jackley plans to continue creating art, and donating money to the organization he said changed his life. He also told us he’s working to land more celebrity interviews for his YouTube channel.
If you’d like to buy some of his art, the best way to reach him is through his Instagram page. All of the proceeds from his art sales go to Give Kids the World.