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Ryder's Backyard Oasis

  • Ryder excitedly ran straight toward his new backyard with his arms up in the air! Photos courtesy of Maui Creative Photography.

  • Ryder's new backyard oasis, complete with a safe playground set and concrete bike path.

  • Ryder running toward the playground with volunteers cheering him on!

  • All the volunteers helped set a grand wish reveal before Ryder and his family arrived.

  • Ryder stepping out of the limo with Make-A-Wish Hawaii, COO Amy Sterry.

  • Stepping onto his new playground set.

  • Sliding down his new slide for the first time!

  • Ryder was so excited he kept his arms up in jubilation!

  • A big hug for Ryder.

  • Ryder with his parents and two younger brothers in front of their new playground set!

  • Make-A-Wish Hawaii staff and volunteers getting to work on Ryder's backyard! Photo courtesy of Wailea Photography.

  • Smoothing out Ryder's new bike path. Photo Courtesy of Wailea Photography.

  • Ryder's backyard before the work began.

  • Ryder and his family with all the amazing volunteers in their community who helped make his wish come true!

“ We are so grateful for everything everybody has done. ”


- Ryder's mom, Taryn

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

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Make-A-Wish® Hawaii
P.O. Box 1877
Honolulu, HI 96805
(808) 537-3118 x100