Disney continues to shine on Central Florida and the great work being done by these institutions.

Press Release

Making a clear connection between itself and the recent “shine on” sightings in Central Florida, Walt Disney World Resort is sending prize patrols across the region to surprise, reward and recognize recipients of its Disney’s Helping Kids Shine Grants and Disney Dreamers and Doers Shining Stars programs. By May 22, the prize patrols will have distributed a total of $700,000 to worthy non-profit organizations and 15 awards to local students.

“We are celebrating our community by shining a spotlight on some very deserving non-profits and students who help make dreams come true in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Seminole counties,” says Eugene Campbell, vice president of Community Relations and Minority Business Development for Walt Disney World Resort. “Walt Disney World Resort is dedicated to building a better future for youth in Central Florida, and ultimately, a stronger community for us all.”

Disney’s Helping Kids Shine Grants celebrate those who commit their time and talent to making a difference in the lives of Central Florida’s children. This year, Walt Disney World Resort is awarding grants to 34 Central Florida non-profit organizations that focus on children in four specific areas: connecting with adults, constructive use of free time, character development and compassion. Recipients are chosen by a panel of judges made up of Central Florida community leaders and Walt Disney World Cast Members.

Coalition for the Homeless Receives Disney’s Top Grants Award

The season of giving started on Monday when Walt Disney World Resort recognized the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida with its top Disney’s Helping Kids Shine Grant – the Bob Allen Outstanding Community Service Award – for the second year in a row. Mickey Mouse, along with Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton, Allen family members and a Disney prize patrol, awarded $60,000 to the non-profit’s child development programs, which aim to instill values such as trust, honesty, integrity, responsibility, personal power and self-esteem.

“It’s humbling and a great honor to be recognized for our work with families,” said Brent Trotter, President/CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. “Families with children are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population in Central Florida today. We’ve created a wide variety of services to meet the unique needs of the growing number of children who use the Coalition’s services, and are happy to have the support of Disney in our mission.”

Disney Surprises Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida with $50,000

Mickey Mouse, joined by a Disney prize patrol, arrived at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida on Wednesday to honor the agency with the Dianna Morgan Children’s Champion Award in recognition of the magic the organization creates through youth outreach and mentoring.

“We couldn’t be more surprised or thrilled,” said Jennifer Rider, Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, which received $50,000. “Thanks to Disney’s funding, we’ll be able to maintain our support staff that make and sustain our mentoring matches. They play a critical role in helping set our youth up for future success.”

Dreamers and Doers Recognizes 15 Shining Stars

Out of the nearly 400 local students recognized as 2009 Disney Dreamers and Doers, 15 students have earned top honors as Disney Shining Stars – and visits from Disney prize patrols to celebrate their accomplishments.

Disney Dreamers and Doers rewards outstanding students who are improving their communities through volunteer service in Central Florida. Nominees are submitted by schools throughout Orange, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Seminole counties and chosen by panel comprised of community leaders and Walt Disney World Cast Members.

The recipients of the 2009 Disney Dreamers and Doers Shining Star Award include:

Orange County
Elementary School: Jillian Ortner, Sunrise Elementary School
Middle School: Natalia Rivera, St. Charles Borromeo School
High School: Jeanine Sinanan-Singh, Trinity Prep

Osceola County
Elementary School: Joshua Almonte, Ventura Elementary School
Middle School: Dominic St. Germaine, Kissimmee Charter Academy
High School: Amber Pettit, Harmony High School

Lake County
Elementary School: Meagan Dickerson, Cypress Ridge Elementary
Middle School: Chandler Watkins, Carver Middle School
High School: Lacey Morgan, Leesburg High School

Polk County
Elementary School: Shelby Fallin, Griffin Elementary School
Middle School: Patrick Davis, Southwest Middle School
High School: Ashley Greene, Ridge Community High School

Seminole County
Elementary School: Branson Mann, Sweetwater Episcopal Academy
Middle School: Raevon Redding, Tuskawilla Middle School
High School: Lauren Snyder, Paul J. Haggerty High School

All Disney Dreamers and Doers receive four theme park tickets, a certificate and a special pin. In addition, the 15 Disney Shining Stars receive a Mickey Mouse statue and Walt Disney World Annual Passes for themselves and their immediate families.

Now in its 26th year, more than 11,000 students in Central Florida have been recognized as Disney Dreamers and Doers.

By May 22, a total of 34 Disney’s Helping Kids Shine Grants and 15 top Dreamers and Doers Shining Stars will be awarded. Prize patrol reports and pictures will be posted on www.shineontoday.com so the community can follow the journey across Central Florida.

Wrapping it up

Congratulations to these winners and thanks to the Walt Disney Company’s generous participation. Today’s economy has affected us all, but charities like these have been hit particularly hard and these grants are well deserved and are sure to ease the tough times.