When 11-year-old wish kid Kaylan was unexpectedly diagnosed with a brain tumor last year, it changed her life. Before somersaulting into a new routine of treatments and hospital visits, gymnastics was her world—she had recently won the 2017 Hawaii State Level 2 Vault Gymnastics Championship. But when she started suffering from seizures, Kaylan was forced to step away from gymnastics and focus on her health. Despite the new set of challenges, Kaylan’s optimism and faith in God has revealed the enormous strength in her heart and has inspired an entire community.
Kaylan left a special impression on wish granter Kari in particular during their first interview together. “She’s optimistic and bright even though she’s facing a lot. She walks with faith, she’s Christian, and she demonstrates her faith,” Kari describes.
An hour into their interview, Kaylan quietly told Kari, “My friends call me ‘Momi girl’…you can too.” Earning Momi girl’s trust within such a short amount of time was a precious and heartwarming moment, and a memory that Kari cherishes dearly.
A dream Momi girl always held close was to visit Walt Disney World® and ride rollercoasters with her dad. In Momi girl’s heart, there wasn’t a second option—she wanted to experience the “biggest Disney had to offer” with her family. Although her dad didn’t share her energy and excitement for daring rides, he pushed his worries aside and told her he would do it for her. His love for her outweighed his own nervousness.
In the midst of planning the wish reveal, the family wanted their local church to be involved in the special surprise, as their church ohana has played such a fundamental role in restoring Momi girl’s health spiritually. Kari spoke to a few church volunteers who worked together to organize the reveal party. They were able to easily pull in a crowd of over 100 people for the occasion.
“It was a great opportunity,” church volunteer Levana recalls. “When it all came together, that gave me a greater understanding of what Make-A-Wish does.”
“It was inspiring to see [Momi girl] and her family relying on God and the church family to help her get through it,” Kari reflects.
When Momi girl and her family arrived at Disney World soon after, she and her dad rode all the crazy rollercoasters. Her mom, Michela, watched the two from the sidelines, feeling uplifted as her daughter’s wish come true. “It was an encouragement to fight more,” Michela recalls. “She came back from the trip so excited and with a new fight in her.”
Kari also noticed Momi girl’s increased energy when she met with the family after the wish. “Of course we were sitting down and eating ice cream,” Kari added playfully. “[Momi girl] couldn’t show me enough pictures of her enjoying herself and her dad panicking. He looked terrified, but she’s just like ‘YEEESSSS!!!’”
The blessings didn’t stop at Momi girl’s wish; after returning home, the family received the incredible news that her tumor had shrunk! Momi girl’s journey truly united and inspired a community—from her family and friends, to her church ohana, and, of course, her Make-A-Wish Hawaii family. Kari was left with a very important lesson: “Keep the faith—circumstances don’t dictate the future.”