“I just tucked Elijah in for bed, and he had a concentrated look on his face,” wish dad Eric describes. “When I asked him what he was thinking about, he said, ‘I’m thinking about [my wish].’” Weeks after returning from a well-deserved staycation at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, 3-year-old Kailua wish kid Elijah and his family still talk about the wish nearly every day, reflecting on the opportunity it gave them to celebrate a successful heart surgery and spend quality time together.
Battling a congenital heart condition, Elijah’s medical journey has required numerous hospital trips, doctor appointments, and surgeries. Through it all, his love of Disney, basketball, and playing with his family has kept him a positive, happy child. When he’s not watching Disney movies with his older sister Jenna and baby sister Naomi, he can be found cheering on his favorite basketball teams with his dad and dreaming of playing himself someday.
When it came time to reveal that Elijah’s wish to go to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa would soon be coming true, his wish granters knew there would be no better place to do it than at a basketball game, combining his two loves. Elijah and his ohana were soon invited to a Hawaii Pacific University Men’s Basketball Sharks game, led by Head Coach Darren Vorderbruegge, with whom Elijah’s family goes to church.
Little Elijah cheered “Go Sharks!” over and over from the bleachers, excitedly watching the action on the court. At halftime, a much deeper voice boomed through the speakers inviting him and his family to center court, where the team had a special announcement. Elijah grinned with excitement as the players held up signs letting him know that his wish to go to Aulani was coming true.
“The Sharks Men’s Basketball team was so excited to be part of Elijah’s special day,” said Vorderbruegge. “We know he has a wonderful family and feel blessed to be able to share this experience with them.”
The whole family was ready to spend quality time together and enjoy their first vacation in years during an amazing week of fun in the sun at Aulani. Elijah loved going down the water slide with big sister Jenna, meeting one of his favorite characters, Stitch, and swimming in all the pools with his parents. “Elijah finally had a chance to just enjoy some time as a regular kid,” said Eric.
This wish was a game changer for the entire family, as it gave them all the chance to celebrate the end of some of the most stressful parts of Elijah’s medical journey, and to cherish time spent with one another.
Said Eric, “The wish meant the world to us—we now treasure all of the time we have together as a family.”
Mahalo to Coach Vorderbruegge and the HPU Men’s Basketball team for revealing Elijah’s wish and to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa for welcoming so many of our wish children like Elijah.