Give Kids The World Village dedicates Merlin’s magical space to the memory of “Jersey Jaxson” Butkus
KISSIMMEE, Florida, June 23, 2021 / PRNewswire / – 6 years old Jaxson butkus brought joy to the lives of everyone he met in his short life. And now, the place named in his memory will continue to spread happiness and stimulate the imaginations of wish children and their families around the world.
In honor of Jaxson, Give Kids The World Village’s new Merlin’s Magic Space has been renamed Jersey Jaxson’s Playroom, a nod to Jaxson’s original state. New Jersey and his love for LEGO®. The announcement was made during a special groundbreaking ceremony attended by over 40 family members as well as representatives from LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and the Merlin’s Magic Wand Foundation, who collaborated to bring the uniquely themed, ADA-accessible LEGOLAND play space to Give Kids The World – a whimsical 89-acre non-profit resort in Kissimmee, Florida, which offers seriously ill children and their families a magical one-week dream vacation at no cost.
“Jaxson captured our hearts and we are truly grateful for the generosity of the Magic Wand of Merlin Foundation and LEGOLAND in helping us honor his memory,” said Give Kids The World President and CEO. Pamela landwirth. “The Jersey Jaxson Playroom will bring joy to countless children for many years to come.”
In 2015, shortly after his first birthday, Jaxson was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT), a rare and rapidly growing cancerous brain tumor. He underwent brain surgery, intensive chemotherapy and focal radiotherapy. Through August 2019, Jaxson seemed to be doing well and couldn’t wait to start kindergarten. A few months later, however, the tumor returned, prompting surgery, high-dose chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and three rounds of stem cell transplants. In October 2020, Jaxson entered the hospital for his last stem cell transplant. A few days later he stopped walking; the tumor had spread to his spinal cord. Due to the swelling caused by the radiation therapy, chemotherapy was no longer possible.
In February 2021, Jaxson and his family were welcomed to Give Kids The World Village on an urgent wish with the support of the New Jersey-based on the Elle Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to granting wishes for children battling cancer recurrence. Jaxson and his family had a memorable week visiting local theme parks and exploring the village. Even a mid-stay blood transfusion couldn’t erase the infectious smile and loving spirit of the brave young LEGO fan. While Jaxson received treatment, brothers Dominick and Joey volunteered their time to brighten the lives of other dream families by collecting ice cream from the village’s accessible ice cream parlor, Henri’s Starlite Scoops.
At the end of the week, Jaxson was hospitalized for the last time. He died on February 28, 2021, surrounded by his large extended family, who traveled Central florida from across the country to spend Jaxson’s last hours with him. The family returned to the village this week to celebrate Jaxson’s life and dedicate the Give Kids The World LEGO play space in his honor. In tribute to Jaxson’s love for wearing hats, personalized hats were given to all participants by Love Your Melon, a non-profit organization that provides hats to children battling cancer and raises funds for pediatric cancer research.
“We are grateful for the magical time we spent together at Give Kids The World Village,” said Diana butkus. “Thanks to the Village and the Elle Foundation, we have created invaluable family memories and were comforted to know that Jaxson’s final days were filled with joy, laughter and love. The way the staff at Give Kids The World took my older boys under their wings and helped them cope during this very difficult time made an indelible impression on them; I have no words to say how much this meant to all of us. ”
Rated four stars by Charity Navigator for 15 consecutive years, Give Kids The World Village is located at 210 S. Bass Road in Kissimmee, FL. Since 1986, more than 176,000 critically ill children and their families from all 50 states and 76 countries have been received in the village. For more information visit www.gktw.org.
About Merlin’s Magic Wand
Merlin’s Magic Wand is a US-based children’s foundation that provides magical experiences for children who need them most. We work with families, guardians, non-profit organizations, hospitals, hospices and orphanages to make these experiences possible. Serving as the official foundation of Merlin Entertainments in United States, we run three magical programs: Magical Days Out, which provides tickets and travel grants for kids to enjoy a day at a Merlin attraction; Magic on Tour, which brings the magic of Merlin to children who cannot visit a Merlin attraction in person; and Magical Spaces, where we create highly themed and interactive spaces in partnership with local non-profit organizations.
About LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is the ultimate vacation destination for families with children. Located 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa, the resort features a 150-acre interactive theme park with over 50 themed rides, shows and attractions inspired by popular LEGO® brands and characters, a heated, seasonal water park open year-round with over a dozen family-friendly water slides and three uniquely themed on-site accommodations. Located 130 steps from the theme park front door, the LEGOLAND® Hotel and the new LEGOLAND® Pirate Island Hotel bring theme park fun into the hotel with nightly entertainment, resort pools and bedrooms with separate sleeping areas for adults and children, and in-room treasure hunts. Just across the street, LEGOLAND® Beach Retreat offers beach-themed bungalows in a village-style layout centered around unforgettable outdoor play areas Florida lake view.
Brands 2021 the theme park’s 10th anniversary and a year of celebrations for LEGOLAND including a full range of events, new openings and an all-new show, Brickbeard’s Watersports Stunt Show, which features gravity-defying stunts including wakeboarding, skiing barefoot and a brand new flyboard number above the legendary Lake Eloise. More information is available at www.LEGOLAND.com/Florida.
SOURCE Give Kids The World Village