The Li’l Abner Foundation invited 16 medically fragile children from South Florida to visit Walt Disney World over the weekend. This year-long planned event was the highlight of many of these children’s lives, and the Li’l Abner Foundation will soon begin searching for the next group of lucky participants to take the magical journey in 2024.
Established in 2017, Disney on Wheels is an annual event by the Li’l Abner Foundation, founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Raul Rodriguez. The foundation takes medically fragile children – some coming from low-income families – on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Walt Disney World to fulfill their wishes. Some children and their family members were transported in non-emergency ambulance vehicles, and others boarded a bus accompanied by nurses, therapists and their parents. Disney on Wheels would not be possible without the help of over 60 volunteers, including nurses, therapists, paramedics, police officers, and friends who gave their time to ensure the children were safe on the journey. Mr. Rodriguez, founder and owner of Miami-based National Health Transport, contributed nonemergency vehicles and an ambulance in case a child needed emergency assistance.
While the Li’l Abner Foundation has been hosting this trip for seven years now, its initiatives to give back to the community don’t end there. The foundation also puts on an annual Thanksgiving Bash, which hosts residents of Sweetwater. Adults and children participate in complementary Turkey Raffles, holiday gifts for children, candy, pony rides, petting zoos, face painting, popcorn, bounce houses, rock climbing, and free lunches for everyone. In 2022, over 3,000 children, parents, and seniors attended the Thanksgiving Bash.
Throughout the year, the foundation offers tutoring services to low-income children directed by a State of Florida Department of Education-Certified Teacher and assisted by volunteer students from Belen Jesuit Preparatory High School, Florida International University’s Honors College and other high schools in the area. The foundation offers free after-school activities, including Taekwondo, dance, and archery.
In addition to his work through the foundation, Mr. Rodriguez seeks to give back to the community by developing workforce and affordable housing in Sweetwater, a city in Miami-Dade where he grew up and resides. His real estate company, CREI Holdings, has completed construction of several affordable and workforce apartments including Li’l Abner I and Li’l Abner II. The company plans to break ground on Li’l Abner III in the coming weeks.
About CREI Holdings:
Founded in 1982, CREI Holdings is firmly committed to delivering and managing world-class, affordable- workforce-housing projects that meet critical housing needs in the Sweetwater community in Miami-Dade County. Led by Managing Member Raul F. Rodriguez, CREI helps generate economic growth in the community and supports hard-working families, seniors and local youth. Mr. Rodriguez, an avid entrepreneur and philanthropist, became CREI’s Managing Member in 2020. The Rodriguez family has been involved with CREI for over four decades. Building well-thought-out affordable housing developments have helped residents and the neighborhood build a stronger sense of community and contribute solutions to Miami-Dade’s affordable housing crisis. For more information visit: www.creiholdings.com.