by Kate Berube
A Bayport family has won a vacation for 50 people in Visit Orlando’s Most Magical Gathering contest! Jennifer Young, of Bayport, and her loved ones will be reunited next month for the one of a kind trip. The grand prize celebration for 50 guests includes a three-night, four-day stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, two private catered group celebrations produced by a Disney event specialist from Disney Meetings & Events and 4 day-hopper passes to the Walt Disney World theme parks. The contest prize also includes roundtrip airfare to Orlando provided by Spirit Airlines.
To coincide with Disney World’s 50th birthday, Visit Orlando announced the contest back in September, asking contestants to submit a 250 word essay on why they need a magical gathering. Over 12,000 people sent in entries. Out of those, Young was one of 10 finalists chosen to send in a two minute video of her family.
“I was just amazed. I couldn’t believe that I had made it that far,” said Young. At the time, Young hadn’t told anyone she had even entered. Hesitant to ruin the surprise if she won, or get anyone's hopes up if she didn’t, she made the tough choice to stay silent. Instead of filming her family directly, she sent in a video composed of family snapshots that spoke to the connection they share with each other and the underlying message that in the face of things you can’t change, life is always made better when you’re laughing together. In mid-January she got the call that she was the grand prize winner!
“Being able to tell my entire family at once was an experience I’ll never forget. The sheer joy after how hard the past two years have been on everyone, it’s indescribable.” Young said, “having this opportunity to be together all at once, in the most magical place on earth, is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
The announcement over Zoom with executives was met with shouts, cheers, and happy tears. “What a joy to get to host Jennifer and her family at Walt Disney World Resort during our magical 50th anniversary celebration,’” said Maryann Smith, vice president of sales, services and events at Disney Destinations. “Memories are made here every day, and we can’t wait to see what magical memories Jennifer’s family makes and brings home.”
“It’s been such a long time since all of us have been in the same place at the same time and we’re looking forward to having a lot of fun together,” said Young. “There is a lot to celebrate!” This year is filled with milestones for the Young family. Both Jen and her husband Tim turn 50 this year, while Jen’s parents just celebrated half a century of being married. Their daughter Emma is set to graduate high school this spring and their daughter Megan is turning sweet 16, their son Ryan shares the same birthday with his dad and will be turning the big 2-0, and their "baby" Jillian finishes middle school and heads over to BBPHS.
Here in her hometown, we’re thrilled to share with the rest of the world what we've always known, Jennifer Young is the kind of person who finds magic everywhere. A longtime volunteer within the school district, many of us have personally been the recipient of her infectious warmth, optimism, and support. “Jen amazes me. Through the years she’s poured her heart and energy into turning these everyday moments into memories we all cherish. Not just for her own kids, but for everyone's,” explained friend Christine Cusack. “She reminds us to focus on that connection, especially when times are challenging.”
Congratulations Jen! We are all so excited for you.