Eleven-year-old Elijah from Papa’aloa is an exuberant, happy kid who loves music, dancing and school. As a nonverbal child, Elijah communicates these likes differently than many of his friends—primarily through rhythm and movement. He loves anything related to music—listening to it, playing it and dancing to it. Moving his body in sync with the beat gives him the freedom to express himself in ways more emotional than words.
“When Elijah gets angry or upset, his dad will bring out his guitar to calm him down,” described wish granter Teysha. And when he’s happy, he dances—clapping his hands, stomping his feet and smiling from ear to ear.
“His expressions and laughter bring us so much joy,” said Elijah’s mom Chauvin.
When Teysha and fellow wish granters Melissa and Kainalu first met Elijah and his family, they listened as he tapped his drumsticks against a play drum set. And as they interacted with Elijah and spoke with his family, they realized how Elijah’s love of music also inspired a love for Mickey Mouse. Watching the Disney character on TV and listening to the cheerful, upbeat music often accompanying him is one of Elijah’s favorite pastimes.
“All the colors and music sparked his love for Mickey Mouse,” said Teysha.
There was no question that Elijah’s one true wish was to meet his favorite character in person, to take in the sights and sounds of Disneyland and maybe even get to dance with his hero.
Teysha, Melissa, and Kainalu soon planned a special wish reveal for Elijah at his school. Surrounded by his friends, Elijah was presented with a Mickey Mouse doll, symbolizing his upcoming wish. “He was overwhelmed with many emotions,” said Chauvin. “He got excited when he saw his Mickey Mouse doll.”
When Elijah and his family arrived at Disneyland, they were most excited for their special visit with Mickey Mouse himself. “We felt like all the world went away and we were in our own fantasyland,” said Chauvin. “Mickey was awesome, and he even danced with Elijah, which made his day.”
Dancing with his hero, Elijah’s feelings could not have been clearer—this moment meant the world.
“He definitely felt wonderful,” said Chauvin. “Being nonverbal, I believe Elijah was able to make connections with the characters at Disney that none of us will understand.”
But it wasn’t just dancing with Mickey or experiencing Disneyland that transformed Elijah’s life. It was also the support of his Big Island community—of his school, his friends, and his wish granters, whom Chauvin describes as “patient, kind and supportive.”
“The wish impacted Elijah by giving him the opportunity to be free and not held back by his disability,” said Chauvin. “I never saw him so happy. As a family, this wish brought us closer and gave us the strength to overcome anything together. We are forever grateful for this experience.”