ORLANDO, Fla. — Henri Landwirth, the Holocaust survivor and hotelier who founded Give Kids the World Village in Central Florida, has died at 91.
Landwirth created Give Kids the World in 1986. The Kissimmee, Fla. charity funds all-expenses-paid vacations for critically ill children and their families.
In 1989, Landwirth opened the Give Kids the World Village, an 84-acre resort with 168 villas and on-site amenities and activities for children of all abilities. Since then, GKTW has hosted more than 160,000 families from 76 countries.
"Looking back, I never thought it was going to grow the way it is today," Landwirth told Spectrum News 13 in an interview in 2011. "Who knows what might happen in the next 10 years, 20 years?"
Landwirth was born in Belgium in 1927. Between the ages of 13 and 18, he spent his life in Nazi death and labor camps, including Auschwitz. According to the Give Kids the World website, Landwirth came to New York City with $20. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, used his G.I. benefits to learn about hotel management and worked his way up.
In addition to Give Kids the World, Landwirth also helped found what became known as the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation with the original Mercury 7 astronauts. He also founded the Fanny Landwirth Foundation, named for his mother.
Landwirth died Monday, GKTW said.