5 Disneyland finalists {you choose the grand prize winner}

disneyland-mickey-and-minnieOne of the following 5 families will be in Disneyland with my family a month from today.

We're going to have the best time - soarin' over California, singing along with It's A Small World, getting our pictures taken with Mickey Mouse, and laughing our heads off on Splash Mountain. It's going to be positively magical.

I have to begin by saying thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway. It was a pleasure to read through the essays and hear about what you are doing to impact the world for good. I am inspired by you.

In the end, I printed out all of the essays {without names) and had my husband pick the five finalists anonymously.

Now, I am submitting the essays to you, my trusted audience. Please don't vote for the best looking family (they really are all good looking though, I have to say), the most popular family, or...your bestest friend. Instead, I urge you to read the essays and reflect on which family is most deserving of this opportunity.

You will find a poll below the essays. Please select your pick and submit your vote. Only one vote per person is allowed for the duration of the voting period. Voting will close on Saturday, October 24th, at 11:59 pm.

Here are the top 5 finalists, in alphabetical order (by first name):

Amy-McGuireAmy McGuire [Tiny Town, Kansas]

The most immediate thing we are doing impact the world is raising Godly children.  What could be more important?  On a local level, we are very involved in our tiny community.  I teach confirmation class and volunteer at the library, and my hubby coaches.  Our family hosts his football team every Saturday morning for breakfast.  It's good for those boys to be a part of our family, and our kids just love them all!  I also enjoy preparing meals for families with a new baby or a hardship. While our single-teaching salary resources are limited, we believe that we should still give.  We give to our local churches and organizations, and when we see an opportunity to give that aligns with our values (like the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes), we do it.  God always blesses us; he can never be outgiven!

christina-cruzChristina Cruz [Tucson, Arizona]

Our family is trying to invest our lives in what matters most, God and people.

In the home, we try to make it a welcoming place for those seeking spiritual growth or genuine friendship.

Outside the home, we’re involved in organizations helping international students new to the U.S. adjust to a strange place, ministries helping those who have become homeless get back on their feet, and the efforts of our church to serve the Tucson community.

And we’re involving our children in all of this, so they can come to know that helping others doesn’t need to be a part-time activity, but rather a way of life.

With all of our flaws and imperfections, we’re just trying to be a family that places others above ourselves.

christine-altavillaChristine Altavilla [Phoenix, Arizona]

My husband is a shining example of kindness and love.   Many people I know will “volunteer” their spouses and then have a “discussion” about it later.  I can honestly say that I have never had to “volunteer” my husband for anything.  He notices when neighbors get rocks delivered and he is out with a shovel to help.  He sees that volunteers are needed for things at church and signs himself up.  He teaches 3rd grade at an inner city school because he believes those are the kids that need the most help.  Because of my husband’s selfless character we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to take our youth group on mission trips, build homes in Mexico, and counsel at church camp.  Now we have an 18 month old son who likes to mimic his daddy.  I can only hope this stage lasts for the rest of his life.

cyndi-crognaleCyndi Crognale [Chicago, Illinois]

At this stage in our lives, trying to impact the world for good looks like this:

-Aiming to love God, each other, and others.

-Raising our family in God’s love, having fun together and disciplining gently; truly listening to our child, even though he has just started becoming verbal; showing compassion and empathy so that he will become a compassionate, empathetic human being.

-Following our passions. Jesse, my husband, teaches and mentors middle-school students as his full-time job, while I stay home with our child to first and foremost pour into his life and then to edit (from home) manuscripts that go out into the world and touch and change countless people’s lives.

-Sponsoring a child in a third-world country and connecting with him through letters, sending gifts when appropriate.

-Choosing a gift together from the World Vision catalog at Christmas to bless someone in dire need.

erica-mclaughlinErica McLaughlin [Vail, Arizona]

My husband and I have worked and volunteered with youth for ten years.  We teach them, mentor them, lead them in doing service projects for others, and try to help guide them to becoming responsible young adults who will positively impact the world.

We make dinners for neighbors and friends in need and send encouraging notes to people we love.  I’ve raised over $700 so far to donate for a cancer walk I’m participating in.  I recently chopped off my hair for Locks of Love.

One of our best efforts is parenting.  We are examples of ambitious, caring, Godly people to our two beautiful girls.  We teach them what’s right, expect the best from them, and heap love on them so that they will carry on our legacy of love.  I don’t think anyone can do enough to make the world a better place, but my family certainly tries.


There you have it. Do I have AWESOME readers or what?


[poll id="2"]

Oh, I forgot the other exciting news that I have.

The four runner-ups will each receive this phenomenal prize package:

Princess 5-in-1 Tasty Baker OR 4 Image Disney Fairies Plastic Toaster by Pop Art Toaster {valued at $35-$50}

princess 5-in-1 tasty pop art toaster -OR- 4-image-disney-fairies-pop-art-toaster

Your little princess will love making (and eating) pancake princesses, brownie castles, blueberry muffin gowns, and more. Or perhaps she'd rather enjoy her whole wheat toast with pixie dust imprinted on it? Either way, breakfasts are sure to be extra special with a Disney-themed toaster or tasty baker from Pop Art Toaster.

pop art toaster logoPop Art Toasters brand images onto all different types of toast, flat bagels, toaster pastries, and even hamburger buns! Tasty bakers, on the other hand, allow you to make waffles, pancakes, muffins, and breads in fun shapes. Various images and words are available to fit all types of personalities. You can even get your business logo branded on a piece of toast!

A Standard Personalized Birthday Banner from Birthday Express {$14.99}

The high-definition banners are made of heavy duty vinyl and feature metal grommets for easy hanging indoors or out. Select your font and color, customize your message, and you're all set.

toy story personalized birthday banner birthday express

personalized cinderella banner birthday express

The winner will select a theme of her choice {subject to availability}.

birthday express logoBirthday Express is your "complete source for kids' birthday party supplies." The site offers apparel, balloons, decor, favors, games, pinatas, partyware, bannes, and more.

A PEZ Disney Mickey Mouse and Friends 12CT Display by CandyWarehouse.com {$19.80}

pez mickey and friends 12ct display candy warehouse

Each display box includes 12 Disney character PEZ dispenser packs, each with 2 PEZ candy refill cartridges. Your child will be delighted by the classic Disney characters - and the sweet treats inside. Best of all, he/she will be able to share them with friends and neighbors - or distribute them as party favors.

candywarehouseCandyWarehouse.com is "America's favorite online candy store." Sweet tooths, beware! This shop is fun, fun, fun. My personal favorite? Rainbow Licorice Laces - perfect for teaching a child how to tie his shoe or for making edible necklaces.


There you have it. Prizes for all. No matter what the outcome, every finalist is a winner!

P.S. Don't forget to vote!

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35 comments on “5 Disneyland finalists {you choose the grand prize winner}”

  1. Where can I vote? I'm voting for Amy. We've never met, but she's already blessed my life, encouraging and supporting me during our miscarriages. She's a busy mom but takes time to serve other people in many ways.

  2. Jesse and Cyndi involve themselves with their families which in turn builds strong generational connections and children who have much given to them from parents , grandparents, aunts and uncles, enhancing Christlike character from the heart. They are very fun to be with. Thanks. Gretchen

  3. I have know Erica and Chris before they were Erica and Chris and they have always given every bit of themselves to others and are passing along this character trait to their beautiful daughters! Please vote to send them to Disney!

  4. I am so inspired by all of these families and by how you have shared them with us, Stephanie. Each one makes me want to do more in my own church, neighborhood and community for others. They are ALL making this a better world.

  5. Christina Cruz and her family just adopted a boy from Korea, and the essay says the rest...I vote for her! Good luck Christina!!!

  6. Erica and her family are amazing. Sometimes she even makes me mac'n'cheese with little hot dog slices in it. It is delicious and I would love to see them go to Disneyland!!

  7. Cristina is one of the nicest people I know. You feel warm and touched the minute she smiles at you. She and Johnnny are beautiful together. Good Luck and God Bless you!

  8. I agree with Matthew's comments - having known them, they touch the lives of people that they don't even know. Awesome and true!

  9. I'll say that the info on Christina Cruz and her family do not do her justice. Johnny and Christina both met while working for March of Dimes foundation. They are heavily involve in their community. The stuff they do with the homeless, families needing meals, community outreach is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their love of others. Good luck guys!

  10. Amber, we have to wait until we're home on our own network to vote. A vote has already been registered from the school IP, so that's why the vote button isn't available. :)

    Stephanie, these entries are inspiring! Thanks for sharing!!

  11. I voted for Amy but the little voting tool spent a lot of time thinking, so I don't know if it registered.


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