ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 19, 2007 - In a sea of streamers this morning, the most famous mouse in the world helped celebrate a $10 million contribution to Florida Children's Hospital from Walt Disney World and Disney Worldwide Outreach. With the drop of a 100-foot banner from the 11-story hospital, The Walt Disney Company and Florida Children's Hospital revealed a promise to the community and laid the foundation for the "Children's Hospital of the Future."
While The Walt Disney Company has long supported children's hospitals both locally and around the world, Florida Children's Hospital will become the first hospital in history to bear the Disney name. The official name of the hospital will be announced at a later date.
"This contribution is part of our ongoing commitment to making dreams come true for the children of Central Florida," said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort. "Even during uncertain times, children want and need to play, to exercise their imaginations, and to dream. At Disney, we thrive on that kind of imaginative energy, and we hope to bring some of that same spirit to this special place that will provide care for the children of our community."
During the ceremony this morning, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, as well as a former 10-year-old patient of the hospital and his mother, zoomed in on a 1920s Cadillac from the "Stars and Motor Cars" parade at Disney-MGM Studios to help Florida Hospital and Disney cement their partnership. Mickey and Minnie, officials from both organizations, and special guests placed their hands in cement to symbolize the start of construction on the site at Florida Children's Hospital.
"Florida Children's Hospital has been caring for the children of Central Florida for almost 100 years," said Lars Houmann, president of Florida Hospital, which runs Florida Children's Hospital. "A few miles from here, Disney has been equally passionate about making dreams come true for children here at home and around the world. Together, we are building a children's hospital that we hope will establish a new model of healthcare throughout our community and beyond."
Florida Hospital depends on the generous philanthropy of individuals and organizations to continue to meet the healthcare needs of the patients it serves, and Disney's contribution stands as one of the largest in the hospital's history.
"We are privileged to accept this gift from The Walt Disney Company. Combining Disney's imagination and creativity with the healing hands of Florida Children's Hospital physicians and other healthcare personnel will truly make this a very special place for our patients and their families," said Des Cummings, president of Florida Hospital Foundation.
As part of the celebration, Florida Hospital and Walt Disney World Resort honored the organizations' long-standing relationship.
"For more than two decades, we have worked with Florida Hospital on a number of projects that have benefited Central Florida residents, Disney Cast Members and guests from around the world," said Al
Weiss, president of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "Today, we're honoring the expansion of our partnership and the promise of healing and hope it brings to the families Florida Children's Hospital will serve."
Construction on the seven-story, 200-bed facility is expected to be complete in 2010 and will serve the Central Florida community and the almost 50 million visitors who come to Orlando each year.
"This partnership with Disney is blending our two areas of expertise: the healing hands of Florida Children's Hospital and the imagination and creativity of Disney," said Marla Silliman, administrator of Florida Children's Hospital. "By bringing them together, we are creating an environment in which even the sickest children can experience joy and happiness while they are in the hospital."
About Florida Hospital and Walt Disney World
Florida Children's Hospital is a 155 specialty bed, full-service facility served by nearly 60 Kids' Docs, the largest panel of pediatric specialists in Orlando, and a highly trained pediatric team of more than 600 employees. The dedicated children's hospital delivers a complete range of pediatric health services to younger patients, who benefit from the expertise of specialized departments throughout Florida Hospital. When construction is complete in 2010, Florida Children's Hospital will have 200 beds; private, family-centered pediatric rooms; a dedicated pediatric Emergency Department; an Advanced Center for Pediatric Surgery; destination pediatric programs including advanced surgery, oncology, neurosurgery, cardiology, transplant services, and full-service pediatrics; and an innovative Health and Obesity platform.
Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation center featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom Park); two water adventure parks; 32 resort hotels; championship golf courses; two full-service spas; Disney's Wedding Pavilion; Disney's Wide World of Sports complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex. Located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando, the resort opened Oct. 1, 1971, and currently employs nearly 60,000 Cast Members.
Disney brightens the lives of children in need around the world through global outreach programs, local community initiatives and the Disney VoluntEARS program. The Disney VoluntEARS program provides opportunities for Disney employees to contribute their time and expertise towards making a positive impact in the communities they serve while furthering the traditions and ideals of The Walt Disney Company. Last year, Disney donated more than $170 million in cash and in-kind support to various charities around the world. Disney VoluntEARS contributed more than 485,000 hours of service and the company drew upon its unique magic to make wishes come true for children and families. For more information on Disney's outreach efforts, please visit www.disneyoutreach.com.
For more information, please contact Florida Hospital Media Relations at 407-303-8217 or Disney Media Relations at 407-828-3814.