Hawaii gained a Junior Volcanologist on Sunday, April 19, when 13-year-old Wish Teen Donovan, of Waipahu, concluded his week-long volcanology wish shadowing local experts.
Donovan, from Waipahu, is facing a life-threatening diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease – something he has had since birth. Following his referral to our chapter, it didn’t take long for Donovan’s wish-granting team to discover his fascination with natural disasters – especially volcanoes.
Donovan’s No. 1 wish was a simple ask to leave Oahu and see Kilauea. But, picking up on Donovan’s love for learning about volcanoes, his wish-granting team went beyond that and planned a week where he could be a volcanologist, thanks to dozens of local experts who volunteered to give a one-of-a-kind educational experience way beyond sight-seeing.
Donovan got to wake up and go to bed at the edge of Hawaii’s hyperactive shield volcano, Kilauea, with a crater-view room at the historic Volcano House located inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the park, Donovan got to shadow an expert team of HVO scientists for a sampling of what a future career could look like in the field.
Lessons went beyond the classroom with researchers at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and its geology lab. Donovan got to visit the areas of Pahoa and Kalapana; Kalapana is a town that first gained notoriety when the 1986 Kilauea lava flow destroyed and partly buried most of the town. Donovan also got an aerial view lesson thanks to a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.
“Our mission is centered around one goal, and that is to grant wishes – wishes that truly tap into a child’s highest ambitions and greatest hopes and dreams,” said Make-A-Wish Hawaii President and CEO Siana Austin Hunt. “Giving Donovan a chance to not just see a volcano but to actually shadow the researchers and scientists whom he is so fascinated by has been one of the most impactful components to granting Donovan’s wish, and once again, we couldn’t have done it without our Big Island community.”
Donovan’s wish marks the 1,000th wish granted to a local child since the first wish granted in 1984 to a Hilo boy who wished to go to Walt Disney World® Resort. This came two years after the chapter’s founding in 1982, when Make-A-Wish Hawaii initially opened to host children and their families on their wishes to see Hawaii.
As of April 2015, there are more than 100 Hawaii children like Donovan awaiting their wishes. Make-A-Wish Hawaii receives no government funding and relies entirely on financial and in-kind support from individuals, corporations and foundations.