Gear Up Florida 2009: Giving Kids the World

The only difference for me is that I was sweeping on the day that changed my life forever in 2007. Riding into Orlando was such a great experience that I wanted to sweep so that I could lead the pace line into Give Kids the World. The ride was fast and smooth for the most part. I was in the back with Paul Parker and the day was going great. We arrived at stage up just in time and after a few turns we were there. The vans lead the pace line into the village, but then Mayor Clayton (a six foot tall rabbit) jumped in and took the lead. The rest of the team was in awe at the village and were smiling from ear to ear.

We were offered a ride on the carousel and we couldn’t pass it up so we jumped on for a few minutes and took some pictures. Next we took a tour of the facilities and then made our way to the Quality Inn for a quick change and shower (finally a bed!). After some short down time we loaded up the vans and made our way back to the village. Give Kids the World has staff members, but heavily relies on the kindness of volunteers like us, and we were serving dinner so there was no way we could be late.

We received a quick training from the head chef and were given our assignments. The doors opened shortly after that and in came the families out of the rain for a great meal. What they didn’t realize was that they were getting a show as well. The team spontaneously broke into song, and the families loved it. They loved it so much that we started taking requests.

Give Kids the World was gracious and offered us a great meal, which the guys were very thankful for. None of us wanted the visit to end, but the last family had been fed and the kids were all going to get tucked into bed. The great thing was that we knew that we were coming back the next morning for even more fun. I get to look for the paver my team bought in 2007, and I get to be a photo assistant taking pictures of Goofy, Pluto and Mary Poppins. Once again, I believe that this stop in Orlando will have a special place in my heart.

Ruben Talavera

Eta Omega | New Mexico State University

Gear Up Florida 2009 Cyclist