Wednesday with Walt: A Powerful Force

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Wednesday with Walt: A Powerful Force

“We share, to a large extent, one another’s fate. We help create those circumstances which favor or challenge us in meeting our objectives and realizing our dreams. There is great comfort and inspiration in this feeling of close human relationships and its bearing on our mutual fortunes – a powerful force to overcome the ‘tough breaks’ which are certain to come to most of us from time to time.” – Walt Disney

Walt Disney had a compassionate and caring heart, and he was a giver by nature. There were many times he went out of his way for someone else. I can’t even recall all of the different examples I have read about his generosity and genuine concern for people; both people he knew and strangers as well.

One of the stories I can remember came from Walt’s secretary, Tommie, who worked for him for almost 9 years. Over time, he had become like a father to her and when she got married, he gave the bride away and even paid for her wedding reception. Walt also did for others by starting a scholarship fund for the children of the Disney employees. He supported numerous charities both financially and in completely hands-on ways, such as filling water glasses and clearing dirty dishes at the benefit he put on annually at the John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles.

One of the stories that stands out in my mind that particularly captures the spirit of Walt Disney to me was about a little 7-year-old boy who was dying of leukemia.  In June, 1955 the boy’s mother sent a letter to the Disney studios telling Walt how her son had been watching the construction of Disneyland on the Disneyland TV show. She said his only wish was to ride Walt Disney’s train. Walt told his staff that the family would be coming for a visit soon.

When they arrived, Walt was waiting for them. He took the boy in his arms and led the family up the stairs to the train station. They all stood and watched the cranes put the railroad cars onto the tracks; they had just arrived at the park that morning and the engine had not yet been tested.

Walt took the boy into the cab. As the train pulled out of the station on its maiden run, Walt pointed out all the attractions that were being worked on at that time. Along the way, the child gave a few blasts on the steam whistle. When the family was leaving, Walt gave the family a gold-framed piece of original art from Lady and the Tramp. After they left, he ordered his staff not to mention that visit to anyone and, above all, no publicity. Walt’s instructions were obeyed and his act of kindness was never mentioned in public until after his death. I read about this story in How to be like Walt, by Pat Williams and while I was reading it I was thinking that it sounded just like him.

The reason that I and so many other Disney fans care so much about Walt is that he cared so much for others. He was compassionate, sincere and had a huge heart. His life is an example to me every day. It helps to reinforce and remind me of the practice of trying to make better any life that crosses my path that day.

As part of the quote above says, “There is great comfort and inspiration in this feeling of close human relationships”; that is the reason I am a Disney blogger.  Like others who do the same, we have been filled with something magical that we want everyone to know about. I love talking to people about what Disney means to me. I want to help every person to be able to visit Walt Disney World with their families and feel the magic. I know that the magic isn’t only in the parks, but in the hearts of all of us who have grown to love it so much. We want to help Walt with his dream. We feel a loyalty to him for all he did to enrich all of our lives, even long before we were born. And that loyalty is unwavering, even to the extent that I, and at least some other Disney bloggers I know, won’t visit any parks other than Disney parks when we visit Orlando out of a self-imposed sense of respect and loyalty to Walt. Did he ask for it? No, but he deserves it.

Wednesday with Walt: A Powerful Force


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