Make-A-Wish® Hawaii’s 4th annual gala, Wish! By the Sea, had guests on the edge of their seats when more than 650 attendees witnessed a surprise wish granting for three-year-old Keanu, battling Congestive Heart Failure.
Make-A-Wish Hawaii’s Signature Wish! Gala is the nonprofit’s biggest annual fundraiser, bringing instrumental funds to help grant wishes for eligible keiki facing serious illness. This year’s gala was held at The Aulani – A Disney Resort & Spa, where donors from numerous local businesses and organizations dressed awashed in white and anchored in for an oceanside evening of hope, strength and joy.
Keanu, among more than 100 keiki currently awaiting their wishes in Hawaii, was at this year’s gala with his family. He was joined by several other Hawaii Wish Kids and their families who came to Share the Power of a Wish® with supporters. Little did Keanu know that news of his wish would soon unfold live in front of everyone!
“While our signature Wish! Gala serves as a vital fundraiser for our mission of hope, equally important is the opportunity for us to come together with our donors and show them firsthand the impact of what they give,” said Make-A-Wish Hawaii President and CEO Siana Austin Hunt. “What better way to share this impact than by taking them on the front lines of a wish journey.”
Keanu had been patiently waiting to hear news of his wish - to have an animal encounter at Disney’s Animal Kingdom®. After a video aired sharing Keanu’s story, the program took a sudden shift as The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” came over the speakers. Hunt switched attention to Keanu, who was called to the stage where large backdrop screens swept guests’ imaginations to a wild safari. Keanu was told that his wish would come true, but only if the whole audience could help with the waving of magic wands that held “special powers.”
Only when every wand was high in the air would the magic work – and it did! Keanu was told to pack his bags, he was off to Disney’s Animal Kingdom®!
Make-A-Wish Hawaii’s Annual Wish! Gala debuted in 2012 to help bring in needed funds for wish children statewide. This year’s gala will not only send Keanu on his animal encounter wish, but will help fund more wish experiences for eligible keiki statewide.
Funds were raised from table sponsorships as well as a silent and live auction featuring more than 300 donated items from local businesses. Among prized items were a custom surf board signed by Kauai pro surfer and wish granter Bethany Hamilton, painted by ten wish kids, as well as a Purebred AKC Yellow Labrador Newborn “Wish! Puppy” with initial service dog puppy training, a custom-built Dog House and one year of Eukanuba dog food – retailed at “priceless.”
To see highlights from the event browse #WishByTheSea.