Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Henri Landwirth honored


Henri Landwirth, a Holocaust survivor, used his experience as a Florida hotelier to build a resort to help terminally ill children get their wish.

KISSIMMEE-Give Kids the World Village's Ice Cream Palace is getting a new look and new name to honor the 90th birthday of Village founder Henri Landwirth.

The Ice Cream Palace will become "Henri's Starlite Scoops," the nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses announced. The name is a nod to The Starlite Motel, the Cocoa Beach property Landwirth managed during his early years in the hospitality industry. During the Mercury era, the Starlite was popular with astronauts and journalists, several of whom, including John Glenn and Walter Cronkite, became supporters of Give Kids the World and lifelong friends with Landwirth.

A Holocaust survivor and philanthropist, Landwirth founded Give Kids The World in 1986, creating an organization that makes dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses who wish to visit Central Florida's theme parks and attractions.

To pay for the renovation-which will feature a retro space theme-the Village also announced a fundraiser aimed at collecting the funds necessary for the capital and operating costs of the venue. The "$90 for 90" campaign invites friends, supporters, volunteers and companies to donate to a project that is sure to bring smiles to the more than 8,000 children who visit the Village each year.

To donate, visit http://www.GKTW.org/90for90.

Village President and CEO Pamela Landwirth said the redesign of the Ice Cream Palace was a great way to honor Henri's legacy. Pamela, Henri's former wife, has been leading the Village since the mid-1990s.

"Just like the men and women who worked in the early stages of the space industry, Henri was a pioneer and a visionary," she said. "His dream to give back a bit of a childhood lost, to give families hope again, has not only become a reality but has grown and flourished. It seems fitting, then, that Henri's name will always be related to one of the most memorable and beloved parts of the Village."

The project will have interactive elements to entertain the children, and will hold mementos from the early days of the space era. Its colorful interior will include furniture and design elements inspired by both a 1950s diner and a sci-fi lounge, serving up such out-of-this-world treats as "The Starlite Scoop" and "The Solar System Sundae." Henri's Starlite Scoops will feature lower counters so that all children, even those in wheelchairs, can comfortably see into the ice cream bins to choose their favorites.

Designed by a team at Walt Disney Imagineering, the venue was envisioned as an intergalactic diner where astronauts "gather to relax and recharge after an adventurous day at space."

Give Kids The World Village has hosted more than 151,000 children whose wish is to enjoy central Florida's theme parks and attractions. The Village community will welcome more than 8,000 families in 2017. For more than a decade, the Village has been Four-Star rated by Charity Navigator, earning top marks for fiscal responsibility. Last year, it received a perfect score from Charity Navigator. GKTW is funded by generous donations from businesses, individuals, and other groups.


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