The Creative Steps campers' summer may turn out to be one to remember after all -- this time for a good reason-- thanks to movie actor and producer Tyler Perry's generous vacation of a lifetime to Disney World.
The children -- 65 in total -- arrived in Orlando on Friday to the Florida theme park to spend three days enjoying the Magic Kingdom and hobnob with Mickey, Minnie and a few other animated friends.
"I am happy to be here, happy to be with my family," one camper said.
Perry, best known for playing the feisty character Madea, paid for the entire trip for the Philly day campers and their families after hearing the Valley Swim Club, in Huntington Valley, Pa., told them they could no longer use the pool allegedly, because the color of their skin.
Perry, who got a chance to meet the kids Friday afternoon at DisneyQuest, said he was more overwhelmed by the experience than the children.
“I gotta tell you, I thought I was giving them a gift, and boy was I wrong. These beautifully faced children of all shades brought tears to my eyes. I'm still feeling it as I think about them. They had so much hope, and they were so excited and happy, it was as if nothing bad had ever happened to them in their lives,” Perry wrote on his Web site.
John Duesler, president of Valley Swim Club's board of directors, said he used a poor choice of words when he said having campers from Creative Steps Day camp would "change the complexion of the club." He later stated the incident was never about race but about overcrowding.
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The swim club has since apologized for the incident and welcomed the kids back, but the campers and their parents turned down the offer and filed a class-action complaint against the club.