Every summer, a slew of locals ascend to Disney World in Florida — an annual tradition now almost two decades running.
While there, the group is actively making a difference to children around the world who are struggling with life-threatening diseases.
Larose-Cut Off Middle School has its Give Kids the World Club where students can join and become “Mickey Maniacs”.
Throughout the year, the club raises money for Give Kids the World through various fundraisers and events.
At the end of the year, they ascend to Orlando together and donate the fruits of their labors. This year, that was a check for about $77,000. Over the history of the club, they’ve given back close to $1.1 million — a humbling number that leaves school organizers Celeste Breaux, Michelle Plaisance and Molly Bourgeois in awe of the power of the people in our area.
“Our community is amazing when it comes to supporting good causes,” Breaux said. “We unfortunately have been touched by too many of these children facing life-threatening illnesses in our area. Once the students put faces to the names of the kids we talked to them about, they took off with ideas to raise money to help grant these kids their wish trips. They have touched the lives of many of us and we continue to raise money to help give them and many others like them a week full of fun and laughter, instead of doctors and hospitals.”
The idea for the club and everything that’s happened in the past 20 years is fate.
Plaisance went to Disney World 20 years ago and found a pamphlet about the Give Kids the World Village.
From there, she returned home and took the pamphlet to the kids in her advisory class, who all decided to give back.
The rest, as they say, is history, though there is an irony to the story.
Throughout her 19 years of the program, Plaisance said she’s gotten to know several people with Give Kids the World. No one knows how the pamphlet she found got into Epcot.
“The 15 students in my advisory class decided to raise money for the village,” Plaisance said. “It all started with a pamphlet and those 15 kids. The administration at Give Kids the World Day say it’s fate because they don’t put out pamphlets or advertise about the village at any of their Disney parks.”
The idea and the program grew and a full-fledged school club was formed.
Breaux and Bourgeois got involved a few years after the first group, and together, the three women have helped literally thousands of students raise more than a million dollars over the past 19 years.
The students involved are diligent and work tirelessly throughout the year to help raise money for the cause.
To attend, a student must work all of the club’s fundraisers. The end-of-year student trips are funded by their families.
Some of the school’s fundraisers are inspired by former local children who were once Make a Wish children, themselves, including a cake bingo in honor of MaryKate Bruce and a golf tournament in honor of Brayden Breaux.
Throughout the year, the school also works concessions at sporting events and hosts other events to try and raise money for the cause.
“We do pretty much anything that we can do to raise money,” Bourgeois said.
The community has bought in and joined and helped out, as well.
Trixy and Chad Boudreaux have hosted their annual Holiday Mingle Jingle and Shooting Da Crap events with proceeds going to the village.
This year, the family donated more than $44,000 to the village, joining the LCO contingent in the trip to Disney.
“Thank you to everyone who’s helped in any way,” the Boudreaux family said in a Facebook post announcing the donation. “You truly have made a difference in many children’s lives. There is no act too small to help build to bigger things and it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.”
The teachers agree. They say that there is no greater feeling than seeing young people in a community dedicate time and labor over the course of a year to support a greater cause — a cause greater than themselves.
The teachers say the trip to Disney World is always emotional — a chance for the students to see where their hard work from the past year is going.
“As our friend says, ‘It’s all for the kids,’” Plaisance said. “Our Mickey Maniac motto is, ‘Kids Helping Kids,’ and I think that is the driving force behind it all.” •