Give Kids the World (GKTW) was hosting its 29th annual Black and White Gala for 1,550 attendees at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. GKTW is a storybook-themed resort that provides cost-free vacations for families of children with life-threatening illnesses. Its mission is to create experiences that just lets kids be kids. It’s hard to find the words to describe the feeling you get when you visit the Village, knowing that for many of the families that you see having the time of their lives, this really may be the last fun they have together. We know it’s imperative for us to capture this magic for the gala attendees, not only to increase funds but to increase awareness and sentiment.
Let's Start at the Beginning
This event is custom-created from scratch every year, with a completely original show, décor design, and custom-designed video content. We really wanted our audience to feel how the Village was an escape for the families that visited it, cathartic without being overly emotional. We landed on “A Night of Dreams: Darkness to Dawn.” This yielded creative freedom to literally dream up a new world in our ballroom. In our story, we meet a young girl and her mom at a routine doctor’s visit that turns into every parent’s worst nightmare. We see the pain and then through the power of dreams, are transported with them to a land of fantasy. We chart through the four stages of nighttime, using them as both the color palette and a metaphor for a child’s visit to the Village, entering when hope and light are fading, finding joy, and the hope of a new dawn.
Keep Calm and Dream On
This event always faces very demanding logistical challenges. The production rig would easily take a week to install and rehearse, but since space is donated, we had just 1.5 days. To overcome this, we pre-rigged wherever possible and got creative in the design so we could take advantage of sections of the room we had access to prior to the full ballroom being available. We rehearsed offsite and taped out a replica of the stage to ensure our entertainment was fully prepared. The stage size and shape were also configured to allow the easiest replication.
This large-scale event serves over 1,500 attendees and has a custom show with 70 performers. There is a delicate game of focus and foot traffic. We don’t ever want to have the attendees need to eat their food while asking them to look at entertainment or a speaker, nor do we want servers clearing during entertainment. Both would disrupt one another and change the guest experience. This is also a very lively group that loves to chat, and we don’t want the nuanced message of a very important speaker to go unnoticed, so we make sure we position them right after entertainment that has “sacrificed” the first few moments in order to quiet down the audience. To accomplish this, we develop a very specific show flow document that listed the times of all entertainment, speakers, serve and clear, and other ancillary items, and gain buy-in from all stakeholders for feasibility.
The Final Exclamation
It’s not often that an event becomes synonymous with a nonprofit. But as the Village’s Black and White Gala has grown from a small 20-table thank-you dinner into an event that hosts over 1,500 attendees from around the world, it has become just as influential as the nonprofit it supports. Its legacy is one of unparalleled immersion, unforgettable theatrics and an effortless, well-paced evening that guests can’t help but get lost in. It’s the reason that companies and individuals that buy tables almost always buy again.
A custom show with 70 performers to entertain over 1,500 guests and encourage them to open their hearts for an amazing non-profit organization? No need to dream on this one; it’s what we do!