PJ Masks YouTube videos premiere at Give Kids the World Village

Every day, heroes walk through the doors of Kissimmee’s Give Kids the World (GKTW) Village. Critically ill children battling often terminal illnesses arrive with their families for a week-long vacation at this whimsical resort, leaving “the real world” behind.

On Tuesday, Catboy, Owlette and Gekko from the Disney Junior PJ Masks cartoon series who “go into the night to save the day” were in town for a special event.

The PJ Masks and Give Kids The World have selected two kids, Kellan Hoang and Madison Hendrickson, to write and guest star in their own episodes of “PJ Masks: In Real Life: Kid Heroes,” which will soon be available on YouTube.

Joined by other wish families and GKTW alumni, Tuesday was a busy day for Kellan and Madison – who were first-time filmmakers. The event included the first screening of their videos, in which the PJ Masks defeat their villains.

“It was my first time doing a video…kinda,” Kellan said, while dressed as a Gekko. Kellan was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in April 2019 aged four and has since battled the rare blood cancer.

“It was fun, I did it with my (little) sister,” said Catboyclad Madison, who played around the various games set up at the event in her neon pink wheelchair. Madison is also fighting the good fight, against the rare hypotonic cerebral palsy – only six people in the world share her genetics, and she’s the only one with symptoms.

“The definition of a hero is someone who faces adversity with courage, determination and strength,” said Pamela Landwirth, president and CEO of Give Kids The World. “I know the real heroes of this world are in this room.

“PJ Masks is about empowering kids to recognize their own growth,” said Kelsey Perrotte, Marketing Team Member for PJ Masks. “Kellan, Madison and the other heroes here are strong and brave, even in tough times.”

The “In Real Life” YouTube series launched in 2020, and its episodes have been viewed more than 300 million times, where “the imagination comes to life,” Perrotte said.

Toymaker Hasbro, which acquired PJ Masks producer Entertainment One, has had a presence at the Village for some time, helping to create some of its experiences like Matthew’s Boundless Playground, a My Little Pony-themed spa, a life-size version of the Candy Land game and other Village expansions.

Shirley K. Rosa