Eighteen-year-old Steven knows what its like to struggle with cancer. But, his battle with acute lymphoid leukemia was forgotten for a week thanks to his wish to go to Hawaii and surf!
Being from New Jersey, Steven had always seen pictures of clear blue Hawaiian waters and heard of the beautiful beaches, but he never had the chance to experience it for himself. And then came a wish. After everything that he and his family had gone through, from the countless visits to the hospital to painful treatment and not being able to spend much time with each other, Steven knew that Hawaii would be the perfect escape. He wanted to go to a place where they could reconnect, relax and just have fun, and what better place to do this than under the Hawaiian Sun!
Maui welcomed them with the spirit of Aloha. The family was greeted at the airport with leis and smiles, and before they knew it, they were admiring the Ocean they had seen only in photos, in person! The beauty of the island was simply breathtaking. It was so different from their usual surrounding back at home, it was almost like a dream.
But that dream wouldn’t be complete without some surfing! Steven and his family didn’t just hit the waves with any surf instructor, they had the help of pro surfers, Matt Meola and Kai Barger! Matt is a big name in the surf industry, being one of the world’s greatest ariel surfers and Kai is also well-known having won an ASP World Junior Championship in 2009. Steve and his family were so excited to have the opportunity to learn from the best, and Matt and Kai did not disappoint.
The pros started from the basics, teaching them on land, but it wasn’t very long before Steve was standing up on his board and riding waves to shore! “Matt Meola and his family are incredible”, said Tara, Steve’s mom. By the end of the day, Matt and Steven and their families had become friends. Matt gave Steven motivation to fight through cancer, and Steven’s courage and strength was a source of inspiration for Matt.
It was the perfect break for Steven and his family. “The wish was amazing! It was so nice to be away, away from all reminders of Cancer as well” said Tara.
Special Thanks: Matt Meola and family, Kai Barger, Sheraton Maui, Make-A-Wish New Jersey.