Fifteen-year-old Celine has been battling sickle cell anemia her entire life. Through the pain and procedures, she has found comfort in the instrument of aloha: the ukulele.
Learning how to play the ukulele helped her push through the physical and emotional stresses she experienced, giving her joy during the most challenging times.
By pure chance, Celine had met a musical therapist following a bone marrow transplant that left her in a great deal of pain. For much of her treatment, Celine remained at home, and learning how to play the ukulele lifted her spirits. Her wish to come to Hawaii came naturally; Celine wished to visit the birthplace of her favorite instrument.
Visiting Hawaii was the family’s first vacation, and Celine was overjoyed that she was healthy enough to travel to the Aloha State. Celine, her parents and two siblings visited Kanile’a Ukulele in Kaneohe, a store that handcrafts and manufactures professional- level Hawaiian ukuleles.
After learning how ukuleles are made and witnessing the intricate process come to life, she was surprised with a performance by popular local duo, Honoka and Azita. To sweeten the surprise, the owners of the store then presented Celine with a custom-made ukulele. Celine immediately began strumming the strings and relishing in her special gift. Everyone in the room was quickly moved to tears.
Celine’s dad, Will, recalls this moment as surreal. "You want the best for your child and when you've seen her at her lowest point and to turn around and see her at her highest point, it was emotional," he reflects.
The owners of Kanile’a were so moved by Celine’s surprise performance, an additional half dozen ukuleles were donated to her clinic so she could teach other young patients the music of aloha. Celine will now devote her time to sharing the healing power of music with other keiki like her.
Mahalo to Kanile’a Ukulele for making Celine’s wish come true!
Learn more at sfla.wish.org.