Family Forward and Paying It Forward

For those of you who didn’t see my eleventy billion tweets and photos from Family Forward: Orlando Adventure, my family had a really incredible time. There are probably a few dozen posts I could write about our time there, but I have a feeling only two or three will actually get written…and this is the most important one.

Quick blurb about Family Forward:

While Family Forward: Orlando Adventure attendees will be comprised of social media influencers, the focus of the retreat is to strengthen the digital family. Our hands-on workshops and events are centered on making memories and teaching skills families can apply everyday such as communication, creativity, team building, and trust.

Because Universal Orlando Resort was the headline sponsor of this event, we were able to enjoy a lot of really great experiences at a deeply discounted rate compared to what the retail value of the trip would have been. But it still was a hit to our family budget once we added in the cost of airfare from Albany to Orlando and back again, so we really appreciated the extra spending money we received from family for us and for TJ.

Family, Forward!

The Kindness of Strangers

But it wasn’t just family who helped us out. On our first day there, we were walking in the direction of the hotel lobby when we heard a guy behind us calling for us. He may have said, “Hey!” I don’t remember the actual words. What I do remember is that he handed Tom a fistful of dining cards that he and his family had been unable to use up before going home. I admit I had some skepticism at first, but it turned out that it was a genuinely kind gesture! Sure, there was only 1 entree left out of all of the cards this kind man gave us, but there were a number of drinks and snacks we were able to redeem throughout our stay, saving us quite a bit of money while roaming the parks! I am so grateful to this anonymous stranger who allowed us to avoid some stress about whether or not to give into the temptation of churros and Butterbeer.

The Kindness of Friends

All of the other families who attended the Family Forward Retreat were also so friendly, just in general. Everyone waited in line politely, and the few conflicts I witnessed were resolved relatively quickly and peaceably. But there was one particular act of generosity that I would like to call attention to.

I don’t see her in real life very often, but I’ve known Michelle from Honest and Truly online for years. When we were at a special event at the Give Kids the World Village – a wonderful place that provides lodging for terminally ill children and their families whose wishes can be granted in Orlando and the surrounding area – there was a rather long line for cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes. We were all drooling as we watched other attendees emerge with many different flavors of cupcakes. But as my family got to the front of the line, they were completely out of cupcakes. There hadn’t been enough to go around. But Michelle’s family had been among the last to receive cupcakes, and she offered her own, personal cupcake to TJ so he didn’t miss out. Being female and having been totally jealous of everyone else who had gotten cupcakes, I know what kind of sacrifice she made, for a child that she had not spawned herself. (Thank you again, Michelle!)

Additionally, part of the Mom It Forward team let our family take the bicycle rickshaw they had been waiting for after a late night event. Our feet were killing us, we were all exhausted, and the line for the water taxi back to the hotel would have likely meant a wait for 30-40 more minutes on our feet. After getting ourselves turned around, Tom had used his GPS to determine which way we needed to go to walk, and the route was predicted to take us 30 minutes to get there. We’d stopped to say hi to the Mom It Forward ladies, and the rickshaw arrived…and they let us take it. This was SUCH a blessing for our family, and I’m glad we ended up passing two empty rickshaws headed back their way so they wouldn’t have to wait very long for the next ride back.

Paying It Forward

I didn’t have extra funds or extra cupcakes to offer anyone, but we made sure to offer extra kindness throughout our visit. Our family prides itself on our good manners in general, but I don’t think there was a single hotel employee, ride operator, waitstaff, water taxi captain, or other resort employee that we encountered who did not receive a sincere “thank you” from us. TJ even tipped his hat to one of the water taxi captains, but that will be the subject of another post. We held doors open for people, we thanked those who held doors open for us, we said “please” and “excuse me” when appropriate, and we tipped generously on the meals we did pay for ourselves.  These are all things we try to do in general, but we made the extra effort to ensure no one got left out just because we were tired, achy, and cranky.

And think of how much better off we would all be if everyone did these things all the time!

Christina Gleason (973 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


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