news-category: Christian Life and Service

Gardner-Webb Team Serves Children with Critical Illnesses and Their Families

a group from GWU poses at Give Kids The World

Group of 14 Volunteers at Give Kids the World Village in Orlando, Fla.

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—A team of 14 from Gardner-Webb University spent their fall break scooping ice cream, serving food, and giving hugs and high fives at Give Kids the World Village (GKTW) in Orlando, Fla. This 84-acre, non-profit resort serves children with a critical illness and their families. Everything is free—accommodations in fully-furnished villas, transportation, tickets to theme parks, meals, daily entertainment, and much more.

The resort is staffed by volunteers, and the team from Gardner-Webb worked there for three days, helping the children and families in various ways. The group included 11 GWU students and leaders, Teresa Davis, her husband, Dr. Eric Davis, and Kim Downs, the wife of President Dr. William M. Downs. 

“Serving at Give Kids the World Village never gets old,” Teresa Davis commented. “This team left early on Friday, Oct. 13th, to go and volunteer at the village for the third year. We had the privilege to not only serve alongside each other, but to serve the families that have come for a much-needed respite. When children with terminal and chronic illnesses are approved to participate with the ‘Make A Wish Foundation,’ the Village is where the families are hosted for the all-expense paid week of pampering and enjoyment.” 

Team members received a brief training for each job—from operating the carousel and assisting with horse and pony rides to serving meals at the food court and delivering breakfast or pizzas to the families. Each day, they helped deliver gifts for each family member. The team helped to transport the families to and from their cottages to the front of the village where they were picked up to enjoy a day at Disney, Universal, Sea World and other fun parks in the Orlando area.

Teresa added, “Our most important task was to share joy and happiness to those we come in contact with. We plan to go again next year. Just speak to any of the volunteers and we will be quick to share what a difference this trip has made in our lives.”

Team members

  • Teresa Davis, administrative assistant in the GWU Office of Christian Life and Service
  • Dr. Eric Davis
  • Kim Downs
  • Cason Harris, ’27, criminal justice
  • Baylee Martin, ’25, major: biology, minor: forensic science
  • Holly Clark, ’24, criminal justice
  • Lauren Mertz, ’25, major: Christian studies/ youth discipleship, minor: business administration
  • Annagrace Earwood, ’24, Christian studies
  • Madison Massie, ’25, nursing
  • Amy Canaca-Bonilla, ’27, nursing
  • Sarah McLean, ’26, majors: nursing and psychology
  • Katelyn Harrington, ’24, mathematics
  • Faith Peavey, ’24, American Sign Language
  • Raleigh Wallace, ’25, majors: American Sign Language and music

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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