Not Stopping at No; Getting to How

May 5, 2021

“We didn’t stop at no; we got to how.”

That’s what Jeff Hitchcock said to me last Monday as we stood in line with some of our Friends for Life, waiting for BBQ at the American Pavilion at Epcot.

Two things were memorable about this.

  1. I’ve been working with Jeff for 22 years, and it’s the first time I’ve seen him eat BBQ at 11 in the morning.
  2. It was exactly the right sentiment for what we had just experienced at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

A team of 40 CWD leaders and Board members had just spent three days meeting with Disney teams and meeting with each other. We ultimately decided that, given Disney’s and our own robust COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, we could safely hold a modified Friends for Life in person this summer.

Modified. What exactly does that mean? Well – it’s a work in progress. We are figuring out much of it as we go, and as we receive updated guidelines from public health authorities and Disney. At this time, even though Governor Ron DeSantis eased COVID-related restrictions in Florida, Disney has not modified theirs. So, we continue as is.

It is clear that there are some families and individuals who are comfortable with travel, and others who are not. That is 100% fine either way. It’s part of the road back to being together. Right now, leaving home isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Here’s where we are:

We opened registration on the afternoon of Friday, April 23. By dinnertime, the youth program was nearly full. “Full” has a different meaning this year. Because of Disney’s distancing guidelines, we are able to fit about a third of our usual number of participants in any given space. A ballroom that fit 200 tweens in prior years can fit 70 this year (and hopefully 200 again next year). The giant Coronado Ballroom where we usually hold keynote presentations for 1,500 people? We can seat about 500 adults, well-spaced. The big round tables where we gather for meals – 10 to a table? Same tables, three people.

It won’t always be this way, but for now, these are the guidelines. We are simply grateful to be able to be together this July.

Thanks to some incredibly generous donors, we do have scholarships available for FFL Orlando 2021. We are accepting applications until May 15. Scholarships are for families and individuals – please check out what might be applicable to you or your family.

I hope you’ll consider joining us.