Six-year-old Wahiawa wish kid Zierra’s first year of school was not like that of most children her age. Instead of making new friends and focusing on being a kid, Zierra was coping with a devastating diagnosis: leukemia.
“She has been doing treatment all throughout her kindergarten year,” wish granter Shayna explains. “She ended up missing more school than attending school due to treatments and being sick and had a difficult time making friends since she wasn’t at school much.” When she was at school, Zierra was insecure about her recent hair and weight loss.
When wish granters Shayna and Zandra met Zierra and her family, they wanted to give them a positive experience amidst the incredibly difficult trials of the past year. So, instead of focusing on Zierra’s illness, they asked her about her favorite Disney princesses, what she liked to do for fun, and what made her happiest. They soon discovered that Zierra’s favorite princess was Mulan and that she dreamed not only of meeting Mulan and the other princesses at Walt Disney World, but of being a princess herself.
Thanks to the support of Jewelers for Children and Hawaii Jewelers Association, Zierra had the opportunity to tour Maui Divers Jewelry Design Center and create her own jewelry to wear during her wish. Shayna explains that Zierra is usually shy, but that she “jumped right in” to the jewelry-making process, trying her hand at cleaning and steaming the jewelry. “The best moment was when she was told she could make her own piece of jewelry,” says Shayna. “Her face lit up and she went to work on creating a piece that was so Zierra.”
JD Wriston, technical director at Maui Divers, enjoyed being part of Zierra’s wish journey and was impressed by her enthusiasm and charm. “She is such a bright, happy little girl,” he says. “She seemed to really enjoy the tour of the Maui Divers factory, especially working the steamer and the rolling mill. Watching her string her own bracelet and seeing her excitement and joy was truly heartwarming and inspiring. I hope she gained as much from the experience as we did.”
With her new royal jewels in hand, Zierra was ready for her wish to be a princess at Walt Disney World to come true—but not without a perfectly planned wish reveal party thanks to her wish granters first.
Shayna and Zandra kept Zierra’s love of Mulan central to the party and coordinated a Mulan-themed reveal at P.F. Chang’s in Waikiki. The two created Chinese paper lanterns, reusable chopsticks, personalized signs, and plain white fans that Zierra and her sister could paint. They even hid the details of Zierra’s wish inside a fortune cookie for Zierra to open.
“I loved watching her put the pieces together as she read the fortune and her mind processed what she was reading,” says mom Nyda. “All of it was special…Shayna and Zandra did an exceptional job and paid attention to so many details.”
When Zierra’s wish came true, it was an opportunity for the family to focus on having fun and spending time together, free from the worries and stress of battling leukemia.
According to Nyda, the impact of the wish on her daughter was immediate. Instead of a shy kindergartner insecure about her illness, Zierra is now “more courageous than before.” Nyda explains, “She knows that even if she has leukemia, it doesn’t limit her to try new things and experience new adventures.”
Another lasting impact is the new Make-A-Wish ohana Zierra found in her wish granters. “They always go the extra mile to put a smile on her face and to make her feel special,” says Nyda. “They’re very thoughtful and include the whole family, not just Zierra.”
For Shayna, who kept in touch with the family while they were at Walt Disney World and beyond, the whole experience was inspiring. “Seeing her joy throughout this process has been priceless,” she says. “It means the world to me to be able to put a smile on the kids’ and the families’ faces. They deserve to be kids and have a little break from being a patient.”
Make-A-Wish Hawaii would like to thank Maui Divers Jewelry, Hawaii Jewelers Association and Jewelers for Children for supporting Zierra’s wish. Over more than two decades, Jewelers for Children has donated nearly $13.5 million to grant wishes in every state. A huge mahalo as well to Shayna and Zandra for their thoughtfulness and heart in making Zierra’s wish journey so memorable, as well as P.F. Chang’s for donating food for Zierra’s Mulan-inspired wish reveal.