Nineteen-year-old Ewa Beach wish kid Ian has loved the Boston Celtics for as long as he can remember. When he was 7 years old and in the hospital recovering from surgery, his grandfather gifted him a Kevin Garnett jersey. Over the years, the jersey has gone from being too big to too small, but throughout it all, Ian's love of basketball and the Celtics has only grown. He dreamed of seeing his favorite team in person, sitting court side, and meeting the players. And Ian’s wish recently came true on his 19th birthday, an unforgettable experience for his entire family.
Ian and his family are incredibly close. His parents have always encouraged him to be independent and to not let his battle with a nervous system disorder stop him from pursuing his passions. So, although Ian spends much of his time in a wheelchair, he still participated in his high school’s marching band and other extracurricular activities. But Ian’s true love is basketball, and ever since that moment he’d received that first Kevin Garnett jersey, the Celtics have been his favorite NBA team.
“Something that I always dreamt of doing was seeing my favorite team play in Boston with a stadium full of people, sitting courtside, and meeting the coach and players,” said Ian.
And when the phone call came from Make-A-Wish Hawaii that Ian was indeed going to a Celtics game and would soon be meeting the team, he and his family were elated. According to his mother, Lynn, the whole experience—from riding in the limo to the airport to meeting the players in person and everything in between—made him feel like a rock star. “Every child should have an experience like that,” she said.
The wish impacted Ian and his family in so many ways beyond just the trip, creating lasting memories and relationships. They had grown close to their volunteer wish granters, including Tammy, who felt like she was part of the magic happening in Boston all the way at home in Hawaii as Lynn sent her pictures every day. “It almost felt like I was part of the wish adventure, from the limousine ride to the airport, visiting Cheers (where everybody knows your name), and the ‘Happy Birthday’ song sung by the Celtics,” she said. She beamed when Ian told her it was “the coolest birthday ever” and was excited for him and his family to simply have fun and make memories together.
For Lynn, watching her son endure surgeries and long hospital stays over the years was a difficult journey. Thankfully, Ian has been doing well lately, and the family had almost forgotten what it was like to have a “sick child.” The wish was a reminder of the family’s many blessings and just how far they have come. “My favorite part was seeing the joy on Ian’s face,” said Lynn. Inspired by their experience, Ian and his family hope to stay connected with Make-A-Wish both locally and on the East Coast, since many wish kids in the Boston area wish to come here to Hawaii.
Tammy was also moved by Ian’s wish. “I feel like all I’m giving is a little of my time and heart,” she said, “but I am the one to witness the joy and accept the gratitude.” She added that wishes like Ian’s recently inspired her sister to become a wish granter as well, and the two are excited to partner together on future wishes for local keiki.
“The relationship and bond with the child and family doesn’t end when the wish is over,” she said of being a wish granter. “I remain in contact with my wish families, and they remain in my heart. You think that you are enriching their lives, but actually, they are enriching yours.”
If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of children like Ian and their families, learn more about becoming a volunteer for Make-A-Wish Hawaii here.