According to wish dad Steve, his 10-year-old son Noah is lucky to be here. Looking at him now as he cracks jokes with his brothers and sister, you might never guess the unimaginable battles this strong young boy has overcome. And a devastating leukemia diagnosis was only the beginning.
Because of his weakened immune system, a minor cut on Noah’s hand—something every child will inevitably have—turned into an infection that just would not heal. Noah was placed on three heavy-duty antibiotics for a month. Then, he developed a fungal infection and was placed on additional medications, one of which caused a near-fatal side effect that landed him in the PICU. Young Noah then battled multiple organ failure, including congestive heart failure, lung failure, and kidney failure. He even endured a bout of psychosis that left him uncontrollably crying and convinced he would never leave the four walls of his hospital room again. “He didn’t even want his brothers and sister to see him because he didn’t want to make them sad,” says Steve. “It was heartbreaking.”
Steve and his wife Rosalind plastered those four walls with photos of family, friends, and Noah’s favorite activities. They reassured him that one day, he wouldn’t just have to look at the pictures. One day, everything would go back to normal. One day, he’d go home and play with his siblings. One day, he’d get to be a child again.
It was at this low point that Make-A-Wish Hawaii entered the family’s lives. But Steve wasn’t initially convinced his son should have a wish. “I didn’t fully understand what it was about,” he says. “I thought it was for terminally ill children and didn’t want to promote that idea by agreeing to the wish.”
After getting to know wish granters James and Arden, Steve says he realized that the purpose was not to grant Noah a last wish but instead to offer him hope—to give him the much-needed opportunity to do more than think about life beyond those photos on his hospital walls, but to go live it for himself.
Bonding and brainstorming with Aunty Arden and Uncle James, Noah began dreaming of what his wish could be, ultimately deciding on a trip to Walt Disney World to meet Mickey Mouse and enjoy time away from the hospital with his family.
And from a “joyous” wish reveal at Dave & Buster’s to an unforgettable experience at Walt Disney World, Noah did just that. But his wish was more than a trip—more than a week of rides and character meet-and-greets and endless ice cream. It was a reminder that life existed beyond Noah’s illness and that he was going to keep fighting and enjoy it.
“Going on an adventure after what Noah went through and is still going through made it extremely special,” says Steve. “It was the realization of how far Noah has come…it gave him renewed strength.”
And the warmth of their new Make-A-Wish ohana extended beyond Aunty Arden and Uncle James back home in Hawaii. It was present in every stranger who saw Noah’s wish shirt. “From employees to volunteers to complete strangers, everyone seemed nicer,” says Steve. He recalls meeting one man who turned out to be a Make-A-Wish volunteer from Tennessee and who asked to shake his hand. He was just one of many who touched the family’s hearts during their time away from home.
Says Steve, “They didn’t necessarily know what Noah was being treated for, but they knew he was a special kid. And that is a fitting testament to what a great organization Make-A-Wish is…not only changing the lives of children and their families but making the whole world a better, friendlier place.”
If you’d like to make a difference in the lives of more families like Noah’s, consider making a gift, becoming a volunteer, or engaging your workplace or school. Every small act of kindness adds up to life-changing wishes for keiki like Noah.
Steve has one final message for everyone working toward making wishes come true: “Please continue to do what you do and give hope to families like ours so they too can build lifelong memories.”
Learn more about how you can get involved here.