Hearing how Disney has touched different lives is always interesting and fun. Most of us have great stories of how Disney has had an impact on our lives. For one mother of four, it went much deeper. Rhonda – owner of ‘Walt’s Basement’ found herself in a terrible situation.
“Unexpectedly, it was Disney that saved my life as an adult. In the late nineties, I found myself in an abusive marriage after the birth of my third daughter. My ex had moved us to Florida for what he said would be a good job, yet nothing materialized when we arrived. We were homeless, having run out of money shortly before the baby came, and living with only the assistance of various churches and host families.”
Desperate and broke, Rhonda turned to Disney World for an answer.
“Three days after the baby was born I went to the Casting Center at WDW and literally sat upon someone’s desk until they agreed to place me in a position with the company. I was thrilled, and began my career as a Cast Member at DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney.” And Disney did much more for Rhonda. “The first day of my job there, my trainer discovered that I had no home and was living in a hotel. The manager approached me at the end of that day and gave me enough money to put down a deposit on a rental home nearby. I was able to repay him out of my first paycheck, yet I never forgot the kindness these people had shown to me. To me, it was quite literally Disney magic and its effect was profound.”
It’s no surprise that Rhonda has taken those experiences at Disney and made it her passion at her web site.
“Walt’s Basement is much more than a forum; it is a place where Disney fans can make friends and participate in numerous contests, games, and discussions. There is a board there for everything from cooking to crafts, photography, travel, collectibles, and more.”
Rhonda felt there was a ‘lack of true magic and spirit’ on other Disney web sites, so in addition to the forums and contests she has integrated the same kind of giving spirit she experienced in those early days at Disney.
“We have made a difference in communities around the world by donating to food banks, the Make A Wish Foundation, and even supplied a rural classroom with books and winter coats for all the students. We support our members in all endeavors and even “slip Mickey’s”- send surprise Disney gifts through the mail just because. Spreading magic and pixie dust is what we do best, and our moderators and members are a true testament to the spirit of Disney.”
Susan E. Blow, Rhonda’s great-great Grandmother, was the first kindergarten teacher west of the Mississippi. She was a strong and independent woman who pioneered in the field of education. With that kind of resolve, it is one dream of Walt’s Basement to include sharing the gift of Disney with unfortunate families. “I hope to one day be able to generate enough membership at Walt’s Basement to adopt a family to send to Disney that would not be able to do it on their own each year.”
Rhonda is also in negotiations to have her book, Diary of a Disney Daydream published in 2012. Catch all the action at Walt’s Basement and consider sponsoring Rhonda’s efforts to return the magic of Disney to others.