Allison's Make a Wish
When given a chance to have her one true wish, this little one wished to be Ariel and go to Hawaii and meet Moana, to help Moana restore the Heart of Te Fiti! She talked about exploring the island by land, sea and air in search for the Heart. Through an incredible partnership, Make-A-Wish Illinois and Make-A-Wish Hawaii made the magic happen! From the highest level of attention and service every place we went, to a fun scavenger hunt of “clues” leading our wisher to Moana and the Heart of Te Fiti, every detail was considered. On “wish day”—Allison and her little brother sailed across “the sea” with Moana and a kind captain, and then finished their adventure by playing hide and seek with the Heart of Te Fiti. The utter joy in their hearts was apparent and is hopefully something you can even a glimmer of through these photos. Click the links at the top of this page to donate to Make-A-Wish Foundation and help make another child’s one true wish come true!
We waited almost a full year from when A made her wish until we actually visited Hawaii. As is expected with a 4 year old, her love of Moana waxed and waned over the course of those months. We wondered if she would be as excited about her wish when she experienced it as she was when she made it. To help keep the magic and excitement alive, our wish granters from Make A Wish-Illinois arranged an outing on Lake Michigan last September to "begin the search" for the heart of Te Fiti. Complete with Moana music, Hawaiian leis and a captain hat for our little girl, we sailed across downtown Chicago in search of our adventure. Captain Len of the Bellanzi gave us an incredible experience. And our wish granters gave A her first Heart of Te Fiti necklace and some Moana sunglasses. IT WORKED. Love for Moana was reinvigorated and we never looked back! This adventure was a perfect set up for the adventures to come in Hawaii.
Clue #1: This tradition is our mission and Moana, there's so much to do (make way). Don't trip on the Taro root, that's all you need. Go to the Polynesian Culture Center.
The first clue led us to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the north shore of Oahu; it is incredible and worth a visit even for the self-guided tour. But Make-A-Wish Hawaii and our gifted guide Ōle made our tour a once in a lifetime experience. While we were experiencing one private activity, Ōle was setting up the next. She made the kids crowns and fish out of coconut leaves, they got "tattoos", we watched a canoe parade, experienced a private hula lesson, learned how to make Tahitian coconut bread, watched traditional dancers, learned to throw a spear, and the kids dressed up in traditional costumes. We learned (and promptly forgot) how to say hello in 5 Polynesian languages (we remembered "aloha"). We paddled a canoe as a family with our Samoan guide. And Ōle secretly orchestrated someone going to the gift shop to buy a "Maui's hook" and "Heart of Te Fiti" necklace, hid them, then told the kids they were going to rescue treasure from Tamatoa's cave. She thought of everything!!! We followed our amazing tour with a tasty luau and a fantastic evening performance, complete with fire walking and throwing and a backstage tour of the show. It was an amazing adventure and we learned so much about Hawaii and the other Polynesian cultures.
Clue #2: Although chickens don't really fly... Let's give Makani Kai a try!!!
The second clue was a "Circle Island Tour" via helicopter from Makani Kai! They picked us up at our hotel, and we got an amazing hour long tour of the entire island! We saw everything we had already seen...or were planning on seeing...from a new angle:
We saw the crater at Diamond Head, the city skyline of Honolulu/Waikiki, the Punchbowl military cemetery, and the Dole plantation (with an aerial view of the famous Pineapple Maze). Getting so close to the dynamic peaks of the dramatic ridges was incredible. It is easy to see why Hollywood likes to shoot so many movies there. One of our favorite moments was seeing the Waimea Valley from above, including the cliff that overlooked Waimea Bay where we had just taken photos the day before. While at the bay's beach we met a local family feeding wild roaming chickens near the parking lot, and they tipped us off about the cliff with a fantastic view of the valley emptying into the bay. Atop of the vibrant rusting red soiled cliff were the remains of a sacred temple where all the surrounding island chiefs would gather. Interestingly, the site is also the location where Captain Cook historically anchored while first discovering the island. We saw the falls at Sacred Falls State Park (which is closed indefinitely to hikers due to dangerous terrain). It was all of our first helicopter ride and it was truly a memorable one! When we landed, we found the third clue in a locker....a fun way to end an incredible exploration by air.
Our third clue (the boat) led us to the essence of the wish. All of the amazing things leading up to this day were icing on the cake, and this is when the magic really happened.
After exploring Hawaii by air and land, our final day was to explore Hawaii by sea. The plan was to go on a Hawaiian sailboat canoe with Holokino Hawaii. We hoped that the forecasted storms would stay away, which they did! But we forgot to hope for less wind and smaller waves, so we ended up not being able to sail. But the amazing Captain Austin from Holokino and the Make A Wish Hawaii folks quickly pivoted and within hours made arrangements with the Hilton, where there was a little lagoon. They borrowed a (perfect!) canoe and sailed across the lagoon with none other than MOANA! So while mom and dad missed the boat ride, the kids got a very special private one with Moana. When we got to the other side of the lagoon, a bunch of lovely people from Make A Wish Hawaii met us there with "Happy Wish Day" signs, the heart of Te Fiti, and "Maui" there with his hook (which he gave to our little guy)!
The unplanned magic of the day was when Moana suggested playing a game with the kids. The three of them spent 30-40 minutes playing hide the heart of Te Fiti, taking turns hiding and finding it. If everything would have been "perfect" with the weather, we would have missed that game, which was absolutely a highlight for both kids!
This trip and seeing Allison's wish come true was truly a magical experience for all of us. We are incredibly grateful for all who support the Make A Wish Foundation with their generous donations that allowed us such a fanciful and extravagant wish. We were blown away by the love and care to every detail by our wish team at Make A Wish Illinois (including our wish granters and wish coordinator!) and the wish assist team at Make A Wish Hawaii. They clearly thought long and hard about how to make a perfect wish for a special little girl and they captured it beyond what we could have imagined!
We are also grateful for all of the partners in Hawaii that made our days and adventures above average experiences. The Sheraton Waikiki made us feel special and cared for during our stay. The staff and our lovely guides at the Polynesian Cultural Center gave us a once in a lifetime tour of an already incredible space. Our pilot Evan, and the staff of Makani Kai provided a unique aerial look at a beautiful island, and our Holokino Hawaii captain, the Make A Wish team, "Moana" and the local Hilton created an incredible magical series of moments on the shortest possible notice. Even the staff of United Airlines and at the area airports provided extra care and comfort for our trip.
Finally, We are grateful for the donation from CAMERA LENS RENTAL.com. My rental house for the upgraded glass that helped capture all of the amazing moments of this wish come true.
Thank you thank you thank you everyone!