It's not every day that you gain the type of invaluableperspective that informs the rest of your days, but I guess it hasto start somewhere.

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For years, National Underwriter has been involved withthe Workers' Compensation Institute's annual EducationalConference, which has grown from a regional event to nationalprominence in part due to its wonderful association with aKissimmee, Fla.-based charity known as Give Kids the World.

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For those not familiar with it, Give Kids the World is astorybook-themed series of villas that hosts children with seriousand sometimes terminal illnesses and their families for a weekwhile they visit Orlando's theme parks, like Walt Disney World andUniversal Studios, free of charge.

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Over the last two years, WCI's organizers encouraged me to comedown in advance of the conference and take part in its annualvolunteer day at GKTW, held on the Saturday preceding theconference. Come down next year, they'd say, with a smile and anod. When you see it, you'll understand.

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After some persuading by Diana McCluskey, the driving forcebehind a fundraising gala that raises tens of thousands of dollarsfor the charity each year, I agreed to take part this time.

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If you've been to Orlando in August, you know just how hot itcan get, and much of the volunteer day involves painting andpulling weeds. I've been a musician for nearly 30 years, so I wasdeeply humbled—not to mention relieved—to be asked to sing and playacoustic guitar indoors for the kids and their families. I'd pulledduty in the village's “castle,” where the children receive a “wishpillow” that they take home with them, to remind them of all thepositive feelings and memories created during their familyvacation.

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Only, as the morning progressed, I didn't get to play much atall; no good opportunity with the visiting families arose thatwouldn't have felt forced upon them. I was just about to finish myshift, resigned to not really playing but helping out just thesame, in other tasks.

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Then the front door opened, and a skinny little blonde girlabout 7 or 8 years old came charging in to the castle, with herthree younger siblings and her parents.

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At least, I think she was blonde; she was wearing an Elsa capfrom “Frozen,” with a long blonde ponytail coming out of the backof it. If you looked for more than a few seconds, you'd see thatshe'd lost her hair from her treatments.

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I hadn't noticed because she was utterly joyous. Playful. Filledwith life, she was the living embodiment of what Give Kids theWorld provides its visitors—a chance for kids to just be kids for aweek, to laugh and play and enjoy themselves for the first time ina long time and not worry about treatments, or doctors, ordiagnoses.

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After we helped the youngster receive her wish pillow from thecastle's “magic tree,” I said to her, “I'd love to play a song foryou, if that's OK.” She graciously agreed.

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I sang and played “Daydream Believer” for her (when in a clutch,always go with a classic), and she sang along for the whole song,not really knowing the words but enjoying it just the same. Herexpression—when I allowed myself to look up at it—was luminous.

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When I finished, she said, “Thank you,” and came up and huggedme. I handed her the guitar pick I used and she squealed, promptingmy first internal reminder to not lose my composure.

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She then said, “Can I sing a song?” and reached for the guitar.“Sure, of course,” I replied. She sat, and her dad put the guitarstrap around her.

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Strumming open strings, completely off-key, she sang what Ithink might have been a song from Disney's “Brave,” which I've notyet seen and I must admit I do not know the words to, but thephrases “I am brave” and “I'm a warrior” were definitely in there.In her small voice there was not an ounce of hopelessness to befound. Only beauty, courage and strength.

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With the song finished, we said our goodbyes, I shook her dad'shand and she happily left with her family.

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I'm not ashamed to admit that after that, I left the village,drove back to my hotel and had a good, hard cry.

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That little girl gave me a priceless gift that I will now alwaysremember.

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Life is precious.

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Don't waste a second of it being unhappy if you don't have to.Don't be afraid to live.

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Be great at what you do. Go further. Be grand.Help people. Help yourself. Give kids the world.

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If you attend WCEC, join in the volunteer day in 2016. It justmight change your life.

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Shawn Moynihan

Shawn Moynihan is Editor-in-Chief of National Underwriter Property & Casualty. A St. John’s University alum, Moynihan has earned 11 Jesse H. Neal Awards, the Pulitzers of the business press; seven Azbee Awards, from the American Society of Business Press Editors; two Folio Awards; and a SABEW award, from the Society of American Business Editors & Writers. Prior to joining ALM, he served as Managing Editor/Online Editor of journalism institution Editor & Publisher, the trade bible of the newspaper industry. Moynihan also has held editorial positions with AOL, Metro New York, and Newhouse Newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].