What is Make ‘m Smile?
Make ‘m Smile is a community festival that celebrates kids with special needs (VIP kids) and their families, and features a Buddy Stroll where VIP families are “buddied up” with people from around the community for a stroll around Lake Eola. Enjoy free food, entertainment, prizes and a chance to visit exhibitors that service the special needs community.
This event is FREE of charge and happens RAIN OR SHINE!
[Based on the previous experience of having to reschedule due to a Tropical Storm threat,the organizers are aware that the promise of “Rain or Shine” may have to be amended 🙂 Rest assured they will always act in the safest manner possible for our VIP kids and families. If there is a threat of dangerous weather, they will communicate “Plan B” to you.]
Here is the event schedule of all the activities we attended.
7:30 a.m. – Registration and Exhibits open
Buddy Stroll and FUN begins!
Some of the things you will enjoy on your stroll include:
Gus the Camel, Stephen’s “Herbie” Love Bug, The “Fun Zone,” Bounce Houses, Games,
Clowns, Face Painters, Ponies, Dogs, Fire Truck, Police Cars, Reptiles from Gatorland,
Puppets and over 80 Resources for the Special Needs Community and more!
Your wristband entitles you to enjoy all of the edible goodies like snow-cones, Italian ice,
popcorn, hamburgers, pizza, fruit, beverages and more! And be sure to redeem your ticket for
a FREE Chick Fil A sandwich or a hot dog! ☺
Look for some of your favorite characters around the lake including:
Geoffrey Giraffe, Smokey Bear, Ronald McDonald, Super Heroes, Kennedy Space Center
Astronaut, McGruff, Buddy the Bear, Chick Fil A cows, Publixsaurus, Chester the Cheetah & more!
8:15 a.m. – Entertainment at the Amphitheatre begins featuring:
Hosts: Ellis and Tyler
Special Entertainment includes:
Altamonte Springs Sparklers, Ballroom Dancers, Northland Drama Team,
Orlando All Stars, Special Music and more!!!
Elmo, Cookie Monster, Dora, Curious George, Man with the Yellow Hat and Scooby Doo
will be greeting kids at the Amphitheatre throughout the morning!
10:00 a.m. – Special Guests at Amphitheatre including:
- Tim and Marie Kuck, Co-Founders of Nathaniel’s Hope
- Orlando Magic’s Bo Outlaw and Stuff
- Martie Salt, On-Air Personality – WFTV 9 Family Connection
- Honorary Co-Chairs: Mayor Richard T. Crotty and Pam Crotty
- Mayor Buddy Dyer and Karen Dyer
County and City Proclamations will be issued (to make officially 6/6 Make’m Smile Day in Orlando)
Hall of Hope Butterfly Release in honor of VIPs in Heaven (Sponsored by Aunt Donna’s Butterfly Garden)
Drawing for Grand Prizes from Sea World, Aquatica & Discovery Cove (Tickets will be given out at the Z88.3 Element by amphitheatre)
10:00 a.m. – Chick Fil A and Hot Dogs served on Robinson Street
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Exhibits, Fun Zone, and entertainment continues
Then…. We all go home smiling!
We arrived to this event early so we wouldn’t miss a beat. I had two lovely ladies assigned to me to help me out with the kids, and it really made a difference. One of them happened to be going for her Elementary teacher’s degree, so she hung out more with Safiyya, and the other was also a student from UCF getting her degree of Special Education. Again, God was with us sending these future teachers our way. They were very helpful and upbeat which certainly rubbed off of us, although we were excited as it was.
Attending this event showed me how many more families like me are out there. What saddened me though, was that only a few Muslim families attended this event. All the children were treated like VIPs, as were the parents! All the organizers helped to make our stay the most memorable, enjoyable and easy. They certainly reached their goal with me and my children.
This event was not just about entertainment, it was about collecting valuable resources. There were booths after booths offering pamphlets about their services, offering help to match you up to the right organizations that fit you and your child’s specific needs.
I was amazed at how many services were out there that I didn’t know about, and how useful they can be for me personally, as well as for my son Amin.
The other main reason that drove me to write about this event is that I feel strongly that more Muslims should attend these type of events, to obtain information that could potentially make our lives easier and to expose us to other families with whom we can share our experiences. Although this is a Christian based event, there were no more signs of religion anywhere than if you were to just go out to the park.
Our Masajed here in Orlando are also organizing a Health Fair in July. I was so happy to hear about it as we can certainly use more events like that. Insha-Allah (God-willing) we will have lots of booths there as well that will be filled with good resources that can enrich our lives as well as those of our children.