Ekolu's Wishland. It is Ryder's, aka "Ekolu's" dream come true. Just steps away from his room, this playground serves as an escape - a place he can go to play and simply have fun.
Eight-year-old Ryder or "Ekolu", battles Craniosynotosis, a birth defect that affects the fusion of the skull resulting in developmental delay. It is a serious condition that has brought him in and out of the hospital since birth. But, perhaps one of the most frightening effects of his condition is his lack of fear. Nothing scares Ryder. He acts on impulse because his brain does not process the possible consequence of his actions. His impulsive nature and his love for playing outdoors led him to wish for a backyard oasis with a playground set and bicycle path where he can safely play with his brothers.
Although he doesn’t understand the feeling of fear, thanks to his wish, Ryder knows what it feels like to experience pure joy. Almost 100 people from the Maui community witnessed this joy as they welcomed him with cheers and signs to his new backyard oasis! With his hands up in the air and his smile shining bright, Ryder exuded pure happiness. What was once grass and dirt, was now a colorful and fun play area for him and his family to enjoy.
Ryder stepped up on to the Playground set and threw his arm into the air again to show his excitement. Tears began to well up in the eyes of the volunteers – they could feel the joy that they helped bring to this boy and his family. Their hard work had paid off. The hours spent pouring cement, digging up dirt and putting up the playground were all for this moment – the moment they witnessed the power of a wish.
Ryder’s parents were shocked at the overwhelming support they received from their community. “We are so grateful for everything everybody has done" said his mom, Taryn. A wish that will definitely bring Ryder joy for years to come, not only did he play until it was too dark to see this day, he made sure to wake his parents up at 5 a.m. the next morning to ask if he could go back to his wishland to swing and slide and play!
Not only was Ryder’s wish a gift to him and his family, it was a gift to his community. When they saw his wish come to light before their eyes, they witnessed something truly beautiful. Ryder’s smile has left an everlasting impact on the hearts of those who saw his wish come true, and in turn, they have left him and his family with not only a playground, but with a feeling of comfort. Comfort in knowing that their neighbors, friends, family and even strangers are ready and willing to support them through their journey.
Special Thanks: Island recreation, Island landscape, Pukalani plant company, Miyake concrete, Hawaiian cement, ISI, Maui Eko, Kihei Compost, Paradise Flower Farms, Common Ground Landscaping, Party Zone Maui, Rainbow Rentals, Pukalani superette, Poi by the pound, Charley's, Pizza fresh, Serpico's, Stopwatch sports bar, Foodland, Starbucks, Tropical Ice, Craig Kodakawa, Calvary Chapel Upcountry, Grace Church, Walgreens, Sheraton Maui, First Hawaiian Bank, Pukalani Community Association, Crossfit Upcountry Maui, Maui Crossfit Extreme, Lahaina Crossfit