Seventeen-year-old wish kid Kenan doesn’t usually like to talk about his illness. But, when he met husband and wife wish granters Michele and Wil, there was an instant connection.
Michele and Wil had a large family, just like Kenan. And they too had been touched by illness and by Make-A-Wish; the two were inspired to become wish granters after their niece Precious received a wish. The pair had also brought one of their own children to their initial visit with Kenan, and he played with Kenan’s younger siblings as they talked. Kenan told them about his passion for music; an avid guitar and piano player, he writes and sings songs as an outlet for his emotions. He also told them about his deep love for his family, and that at the heart of his wish to see Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney World, he really just wanted to enjoy time away with his family to create lasting memories.
Kenan’s mom Janene told Michele afterward that their visit was the most Kenan had talked about his condition in a while—and, more importantly, the most that he had smiled. “Michele and Wil made this experience so much more comfortable for Kenan and our family. They are so funny and positive,” she recalls. “I was surprised that my son was as comfortable with them as he was, because normally he has a hard time opening up to people and actually talking about his diagnosis.”
After learning more about Kenan and his wish, Michele and Wil got to work planning all the details, and they couldn’t wait to tell him his wish was coming true. Together with Kenan’s mom, they kept everything a secret—even from the rest of Kenan’s family—building up to the reveal. “That was something very hard to keep from such a large family,” said Janene. “I had to have meetings in my car or when the kids were in school, and I was erasing text messages so that nobody caught on. That was so funny!”
Michele and Will also worked closely with Lucky Strike Social in Honolulu to plan the event; it was the company’s first time hosting a wish reveal, and the employees were excited. On the day of the reveal, Michele and Wil set up balloons, goodies, all of Kenan’s favorite snacks, and glow sticks to make the space look like Pandora. A carpenter and art enthusiast by day, Wil even custom made a sign announcing Kenan’s wish.
Finally, it was time for the reveal. Kenan walked in to the cheers of staff, customers, friends, family, and, of course, his wish granters. “My son was so emotional when they revealed his wish, and we don’t ever see him cry, so to see that…I don’t have words for it!” said Janene.
The moment was also special for Michele and Wil. “As I watched the family, my heart was full,” said Michele. “I actually felt the same way I felt when my niece Precious received her wish!”
Kenan and his family went on to have a memorable trip exploring Pandora and enjoying their time with one another. After his experience, Kenan also gained the courage and confidence to share his story by speaking at church events, and he is even planning to create a video blog about his journey.
Learn more about how you can impact the lives of keiki like Kenan as a wish granter. As Michele said, “It will change your life. You have the power to make a difference to children with life-threatening medical conditions—greatest feeling ever!”
“Being a wish granter is very rewarding,” added Wil. “Doing this sets an example to our children to always give back to the community.”