Vrrooom Vrroom! Big Island kid Dominique couldn’t contain his excitement when he first saw his backyard raceway, built and designed by the community – all for him!
Dominique, who prefers Dom for short, has raced through tough obstacles that no 8-year-old should have to face; obstacles he’s shared with his one-year-elder sister, Julia. Both were diagnosed with kidney disease stemming from a rare hereditary condition called cystinosis, which causes an amino acid to accumulate in the body.
Dom and Julia are among 800 patients in the country coping with this condition, which landed them both on a transplant list. Their illness resulted in many visits from their home in Hawi to Honolulu, as well as to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. We’re happy to report that the siblings both received kidney transplants in the past year-and-a-half. Through all of the traveling and medical treatments, Make-A-Wish® Hawaii has provided a glimmer of light for Dom’s parents, as they coped with two of their four kids facing down a life-threatening condition.
Make-A-Wish® made Julia’s wish to go to Walt Disney World® come true in May of 2013. Her younger brother Dom tapped deep into his own imagination to discover his one true wish. His love for speed led to a unique request – he wanted his very own radio-controlled raceway track!
Make-A-Wish® Hawaii turned to the experts, recruiting help from Sandbox RC Hawaii to manage and design this dream raceway track. Owners Piilani and Caillen Kanekoa are passionate hobbyists who run what they refer to as “the finest RC Track in Hawaii,” located in Honolulu.
With a plan in place, Make-A-Wish® Hawaii staff recruited volunteers from surrounding Big Island communities near Hawi to help clear the land under guidance from Big Island Landscaping, who donated the use of their equipment. The Kohala High School Football Team came out to help with the yard work and to support Dom and his family. The construction process happened in 3.5 days, while Dom and his family stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, so Dom couldn’t peek!
The hard work paid off, and it was time to reveal “The Backyard – Dom’s RC Raceway.” The Koa Puna Motorcycle Club made some noise and surprised Dom and his family when they drove up to the Waikoloa to escort them home!
Overcome with joy, Dom was shocked to see his backyard completely transformed into the raceway of his dreams. Three Traxxas cars were ready for him to take the controls as he stood from a newly-built, bright green driver’s box, built by Mark Kaneshiro, that overlooks the dirt track. Staff, volunteers and community partners cheered him on, and local resident Kevin Vincent let friend Josiah Hook roar up his Monster Truck to add some noise & excitement to the day.
Dom’s excitement & joy showed clearly on his face – hospital visits were not on his mind as he got to race his new cars around his very own track! After all of the obstacles he has been through and will continue to overcome, his backyard raceway is his new happy place – a place where he can live in the moment, enjoying the adrenaline rush and fun of racing!
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Special thanks: Sandbox RC Hawaii, Big Island Landscaping, Mark Kaneshiro, Hilton Waikoloa Village, Kohala High School Cowboys, Koa Puna Motorcycle Club, Pro-Line Racing, Kingsview Café, Kevin Vincent, Josiah Hook, Chris Hirata, Beca Silva, Anna Pacheco, Todd Buczyna, HPM Building Supply Waimea, Starbucks Waimea, Home Depot Kona, Edwin Deluz Trucking, Minnies, Hawi Barbecue, Hinokawa Electric Company, Enterprise Rental Car, Kohala Credit Union, Vance Fujii, Jeff Van Meter, CocaCola Hawaii, AK Ranch, Ainahua Florals, Green Apple Company, Kona Lua and the numerous individual volunteers who came out to help!