2002 HUMANITARIAN AWARD
Give Kids the World
Henri Landwirth, a Holocaust survivor, was shuttled for five years between Nazi death and labor camps including Auschwitz, Matthausen and Ostrowitz. At the end of WWII, a Nazi soldier marched Landwirth into the woods to be executed and, at the last minute, spared his life. Despite his horrific experiences as a child, Landwirth has become one of the world’s most noted individuals in child advocacy through his lifelong accomplishments and dedication to serving children.
In the years after WWII, Landwirth left his native country, Belgium, and came to the United States with $20 to his name. Shortly after arriving, he was drafted to the U.S. Army. Landwirth later used his GI Bill benefits to take courses in hotel management in New York where he developed an affinity for the hospitality business. In 1986, he founded Give Kids the World (GKTW), a non-profit resort that gives terminally ill children and their families a week’s vacation at the GKTW villages in central Florida at no cost. The organization has grown from serving 329 children in its first year to a 51-acre resort that can accommodate 7,000 families per year. Today, more than 59,000 terminally ill children from around the world have visited GKTW.
In 1999, Landwirth launched another endeavor geared to helping the world’s children called Dignity U Wear. This child advocacy organization provides hope to children and families who are homeless, abused, abandoned or neglected by providing them with new clothes.