In April, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club treated 23 third-grade students from Emma Love Hardee Elementary School to an all-day excursion to Disney World and the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. The students were selected from several classes on the merits of their good grades, excellent attendance, school service and other criteria. Once at the theme park, the kids were placed in six groups of four students each chaperoned by an Emma Love Hardee Elementary School teacher and a member of the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club. Some six-plus hours of fun, thrill rides, princesses and parades followed. The groups broke away from the attractions only long enough to eat lunch or grab an ice cream cone before climbing aboard Space Mountain, getting drenched at Splash Mountain or fighting off alien invaders in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. The day at Disney ended with each student shopping for souvenirs using a gift card provided by the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club.


The trip, christened Rotary Magic 2013, was the brainchild of Club Member Rick Keffer. “The genesis of this trip was a similar project my father, Dick Keffer, started 25 years ago with his Rotary Club in North Carolina,” Rick said. He went on to explain that each year the Charlotte South Rotary Club treats some 300 children to a day-long trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – the first time any of the kids have ever been to the beach. “We have the beach as our backyard, so our club needed to choose a destination that many of our kids had never had a chance to visit,” Keffer added. And, in fact, of all the children on the Disney trip, only two had visited a Disney Park before.


As the tired group made its way home, kids and adults alike shared laughs and stories of their Disney adventures. “This was just the beginning,” Keffer said. “We plan on sharing the Rotary Magic with many more kids in the years to come.”