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Thousands Will Enjoy Work of Local Student with Make-A-Wish Connection

Percy and family enjoy ice cream at Give Kids the World Village
For more than 20 years, Matt Giddens of Buffalo Grove has observed the uplifting impact being a volunteer for Make-A-Wish has had on his grandfather George. Using his skills, he's also helping to make a difference for children with critical illnesses and their families.

In a project unveiled during a Founder’s Day celebration on March 7, 2017, Give Kids the World unveiled a design for Starlite Scoops, an ice cream parlor with a retro space theme as a way to honor founder Henri Landwirth’s 90th birthday. Matt was part of the winning design team, who created the look inspired by a motel Landwirth managed in the 1950s that was frequented by journalists and astronauts – some of which befriended Landwirth and supported GKTW. Starlite Scoops is meant to be “a lasting symbol of [Landwirth's] commitment to making children happy,” according to a 2017 GKTW newsletter.

Dozens of Illinois families visit Give Kids the World each year as part of their experience with Make-A-Wish. The always-open ice cream parlor is often mentioned as one of the highlights of trips to central Florida.

Matt Giddens, Herni Landwith’s son Gary, and GKTW Village CEO & President Pam Landwirth checking out a 3-D model of Henri’s Starlite Scoops.

Inspired by his grandfather's long service to Make-A-Wish, Matthew, then an architecture student at the University of Illinois on an internship at Walt Disney Word, was part of the design team that created the winning design. George Giddens of Highland Park has granted more than 40 wishes for Illinois children through Make-A-Wish since 1997 in his role as a volunteer wish granter.

“About fifty percent of the children I’ve helped grant wishes for, I’ve sent to Give Kids the World,” George said. George and his wish granting partner, Debra McWright, were named the 2008 Make-A-Wish Illinois Volunteers of the Year.

GKTW’s founder, Henri Landwirth, was a Holocaust survivor and life-long philanthropist, who started Give Kids the World 32 years ago. He passed away in April 2018, leaving a legacy of joy and comfort for families who enjoy some of their best days at the resort he founded. Henri’s Starlite Scoops will replace the Village’s original ice cream parlor, the Ice Cream Palace. Groundbreaking for Starlite Scoops has not been scheduled yet, but you can follow the progress of one of the most beloved attractions at the resort on the Give Kids the World website.

TOP:  Wish child Percy and family enjoy ice cream at Give Kids the World.
BOTTOM:  Matt Giddens, Henri Landwith’s son Gary, and GKTW Village CEO & President Pam Landwirth checking out a 3D model of Henri’s Starlite Scoops. Photo by Give Kids the World.

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