Is it really possible to melt away worry with a wish? Ten-year-old Graham from Minnesota is living proof of the power of a wish – and not just any wish, a wish to go to Hawaii!
Since 1982, the Hawaii chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation has hosted wish kids from all over the world. Over the past 32 years we have created a truly unique Hawaiian experience for thousands of children and their families who need to escape the unfortunate reality of treatments, hospital visits and constant worry. Every child is different, but the results of a stay on our islands remains the same for every family – a vacation in paradise is truly good medicine – just ask our 10,000th visiting wish kid, Graham!
Receiving treatment at his hospital in Minnesota, Graham would find his mind wandering off to a place that took away the pain and worry, a place that was beautiful, warm and inviting, a place where the word ALOHA wasn’t just a welcome, but a lifestyle, a place called Hawaii! When it came time to choose his wish, Graham thought about this paradise he had visited so many times before in his imagination and decided that not only did he know exactly where he wanted to go, he also knew exactly what he wanted to do there – Graham wished to see the ocean, go surfing and swim with the dolphins in none other than Hawaii!
Graham, his Mom, Dad, and four siblings arrived at Honolulu International Airport excited to experience Graham’s wish in paradise! Immediately welcomed with fresh flower leis, the family felt like VIPs – little did they know that this was just the start of the extraordinary care they would receive while on the island.
First Stop: The Sheraton Waikiki -the luxurious hotel where the family was privileged to stay for six nights! The Sheraton Waikiki’s “Fun Team” greeted the family with an amenity gift bag and a warm, loving smile upon check-in, as they do with all visiting wish kids and their families. After settling into their rooms, Graham and his family rested up for their action-packed week of fun!
The next morning, Graham woke up to see something rarely seen in Minnesota – the beach! Dressed in swimming gear, Graham and his family walked down to Waikiki Beach where they met surf instructors from Han Hedemann surf school. Today was the day Graham would learn how to hang loose and surf like a pro! To the family’s surprise, a special guest arrived to spend the day surfing with them…it was Kama the Surfing Pig! That’s right – A SURFING PIG! After a quick lesson, Graham was ready to hit the waves with his family and Kama! It didn’t take long for him to catch a wave --in fact, he stood up on his very first attempt!
Adventure number two was a day at Sea Life Park to swim with the dolphins! From a waist-deep platform, Graham and his family watched the dolphins do jumps and exciting tricks. They even got to kiss and “dance” with the friendly porpoise! “Graham loved the dolphins!” said his Mom when the day was over. The fun continued when the family went to Kualoa Ranch to go on a Hawaiian experience tour. They spent the day taking in the island’s natural beauty and learning about the land and sea.
The week was almost over, but not before going to Dave & Busters for food, fun and games! Graham and his four siblings had a blast spending time together, laughing and playing with no worries - they simply had FUN – they reveled in the joy that this moment, this day, this week had brought them. They felt the true spirit of ALOHA during their experience – a feeling so powerful that despite his return home to continue treatment, the memories of his wish in Hawaii still light up his smile and melt away his worries.
Special Thanks: Make-A-Wish Minnesota, Hans Hedemann Surf School, Sheraton Waikiki, Leis of Hawaii, Kualoa Ranch, Kama the Surfing Pig, Kai Holt