Orlando is the kind of community that immediately embraces people. Over twenty years ago when I was working at what was then The Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), some friends of mine asked if we would consider helping out a local service organization. Trained well, I immediately said “let me check with Community Relations!”. I was lucky because somebody said OK. We went on to stage and host the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida Telethon for a couple of years. it was a blast but the real fun was seeing the heart and power of this fine organization. Eventually I was invited to be on UCP’s board where I served for many years during which time the organization grew. One funny sidebar was that I was made chair of the Telethon committee and my first recommendation was to cancel it because we could do more with other kinds of events! TV is expensive and burns a lot of volunteer hours! Today UCP serves over 3000 children on seven campuses through therapy and education programs. The stories about our families and kids are legendary http://www.ucpcfl.org/ourstory/.
This morning was a great reunion for me because I was asked to host the annual UCP Faces Behind the Miracles breakfast. My job was to play second banana to an amazing young guy named Benji. He’s a 7th grader at the UCP Transitional Learning Academy in Orlando and he just rocked the morning for 600 people. Benji wants to be a policeman when he grows up. I will tell you Benji will be and do anything he wants to do. He has courage, a great sense of humor, a quick mind and a big heart. When we were in the wings today waiting to go on he said to me “I think my dad is proud of me. I bet he’s crying.” I am not sure about dad, but I was. That’s a cheap shot to throw at your co-host right before an entrance! If you don’t already know about UCP, please take a look at ucpcfl.org. It will touch your heart and you’ll be proud of one of the organizations that makes our city a real home. If you’re lucky like me, you might get to work with somebody like Benji.