Since Elijah's wish for a staycation at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa was granted last year, wish mom Leah has Wished It Forward as a volunteer, event participant, and Wish Ambassador. Below are her words on the power of a wish.
My name is Leah, and I am a wife, business owner, flight attendant and local mom to three kiddos, [including] my eldest, Elijah.
Elijah is 10 years old and a brand new 5th grader. Elijah suffered a stroke during my 2nd trimester of a normal pregnancy and was born prematurely. With traumatic brain injury as a result from the stroke in utero, Elijah was told that he’d never live, never be healthy, never eat without a tube, never see, never walk, never live beyond a 1-year-old capacity, a whole long list of nevers. By age 2, Elijah was living a happy, healthy and normal life. He was visually tracking moving objects, eating by mouth, reciting numbers 1-100, ABCs, colors, shapes, animals. He’s now overcome a heart failure and multiple shunt failures in 2017 and a seizure disorder, and we’re going on almost six years seizure-free. It wasn’t easy; we felt defeated many times. But we’ve always made our comebacks greater than our setbacks. Elijah’s journey has not only inspired me, but thousands who support us. This life adventure is what has opened us to live and give abundantly. And abundance is a core part of Make-A-Wish Hawaii and why we are wishing it forward.
Prior to our wish, we as a family didn’t know much about Make-A-Wish. I think we believed it was a last wish granting organization for terminally ill children. Now, with being active in the wish community, I think this is a belief that many have.
What Make-A-Wish Hawaii really is, is an organization supporting our local keiki throughout the state battling critical illnesses, helping to transform their lives...one wish at a time. Each year, 120 local children are newly diagnosed with a critical illness, and the Make-A-Wish vision is to reach each and every one of them with the power of a wish.
For Elijah, and I’m sure for many others, arriving on the ultimate wish is quite the task and requires a ton of thought and time. Wishes can take many forms, from receiving a life-changing gift, meeting an influencer, experiencing a magical destination... really something beyond reach, the unimaginable. Disney of course is the #1 requested wish, but did you know visiting Hawaii is a very close 2nd?! The local Make-A-Wish Hawaii chapter welcomes 1,200 wish families a year to our islands! We live in paradise. And you know what?! That’s exactly what Elijah chose. Lij isn’t big on travel with all of the fuss of medications, special arrangements, a stressed out very pregnant mommy, all the unfamiliar... it’s all a little too much. Elijah’s greatest joy is found at home, taking sunrise walks, listening to Mickey Mouse, and splashing in a pool with his close family circle. So yes, it’s no surprise, Lij chose to go to Aulani for his wish.
Though our wish was only a year ago, it’s been a whirlwind of a year, and I’m so glad I documented our time at Aulani. Here’s a post from our social media page last year, smack dab in the middle of our week in Ko Olina:
“We’ve honestly been busy with fun from 5am until we can no longer keep our eyes open these past few days but before another day goes on I have to share how very thankful we are. It’s been so long since we’ve been able to afford the time to simply think and act on renewing our hope and fighting spirit. And I say we because the battles Elijah has to fight on the daily are not done alone. And though we try not to keep score of the extra struggles we go through, they do tax us. Seeing these smiles and making these blessed memories truly is strengthening our resolve to continue pressing on. We will never forget the generosity of Make-A-Wish Hawaii and we are so excited to continue to give back, inspire, impact and leave a legacy of aloha. #JoyHeals”
And ever since we’ve been all in, in our efforts to give back to this mission. In this past year we have served as volunteers at fundraising events from staff, to sign waving, to walking and bringing awareness to even becoming official ambassadors of Aloha.
I truly hope you’ll consider getting involved because your contribution, big or seemingly small, of really just time, could be the greatest impact on a life waiting for your influence. It’s the intangible, the priceless, it’s your aloha spirit. And I promise what you give will seem so minute compared to what you will receive.
-Wish Mom Leah