IAAPA Expo Runners Leave Footprints From the Heart

The 16th annual 5K run/1-mile walk benefits Give Kids The World

As the sun rose on Thursday, Nov. 17, attractions professionals from around the world began affixing their race numbers and stretching their legs in anticipation of the 16th Annual IAAPA Footprints From the Heart 5K Run/1-Mile Walk Benefitting Give Kids The World Village.

Held on-site at Give Kids The World Village, the event attracted individual IAAPA Expo attendees, as well as groups of employees from exhibiting companies.

Runners warming up

Sophie Masse, marketing specialist at Falcon’s Creative Group, attended the run with several of her colleagues. “At Falcon’s, we’ve been doing the race here every single year for a very long time, so it’s a cause that’s close to our hearts,” she shares. “This is my second year personally doing it, and last year we had such a fun time … it’s just great to get together with your coworkers to do it and help motivate yourself.”

Runners at the start

The event drew in many international participants as well, with 35 individuals from the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions (BALPPA) opting to run. Duncan Phillips, United Kingdom-based theme park and family entertainment center (FEC) operator and chairman of BALPPA, detailed his long relationship with Footprints From the Heart.

Duncan Phillips Duncan Phillips

“I came here ten or eleven years ago, saying, ‘Well, I’ve never run in my life, but I’m just going to run it,’ and I’ve not missed one since,” he reflects. “I just think [Give Kids The World] is an amazing organization, and for me, it rounds off what we do in the industry. It puts a smile on everyone’s faces, and nobody needs it more than those here.”

Give Kids The World provides cost-free vacations to children with critical illnesses and their families. The week-long vacation includes visits to beloved Orlando area attractions and theme parks.

Before the start of the race, 2022 IAAPA Chairman of the Board, Ken Whiting, welcomed the crowd and thanked sponsors for supporting the event. Pamela Landwirth, president and CEO of Give Kids The World, also took the stage.

“I know you’re getting ready to walk the show floor. From what I understand, that’s 11 miles, so this is going to seem like a piece of cake for you this morning,” she joked. Landwirth then took a more sentimental turn, noting the impact that the attractions industry has had on the Village. “And when you look at the Village, every single inch of this village has been touched by IAAPA, a member, a partner, a manufacturer, a supplier. We couldn’t have this incredible village without all of you.”

After the speech concluded, IAAPA Expo attendees took off running with their attractions industry family—kicking off a new day of IAAPA Expo on a joyful and charitable note.