Last week Jenny was able to escape the grips of Doxorubicin, Zofran, treatment chairs, port access and blood counts. For the first time in 8 months, our seven-year-old didn't have to worry about poking or prodding, pain or panic. Jenny ventured to the islands of Hawaii for her post-treatment Make-A-Wish (MAW) trip. At Jenny's request, MAW sponsored a Polynesia fantasy voyage for all six of us; Jenesis, Mom, Dad and her three older siblings. When I was younger all I knew of Make-A-Wish was that they provided trips for children facing terminal illnesses. Today, MAW does so much more to make life a little more special for any child facing and overcoming a life threatening illness. This definitely was the case for our family.
The getaway started with a limo ride to ROC airport for a twelve-hour flight from Rochester, NY to Newark, NJ and then to Honolulu. The flight was a well-paced build up for an amazing touch down in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. When we landed in Hawaii, we were greeted right off of the flight by a nice young man holding a sign with Jenesis's name and leis for the whole family. Once we arrived at the Disney Aulani resort, every detail was fined tuned.
The massive lobby was decorated with Polynesia imagery and artwork in an open space which led right to the man-made lagoon feeding into the beautiful Pacific ocean. Everyone knows that Disney is all about detail, but this place was right out an international travel brochure. Each day was better than the next, and I could see Jenny was becoming well acclimated to her Hawaiian host. She learned several native words including aloha (Helo/goodbye), Mahalo(thank you) and shaka (a native hand gesture).
Our family went snorkeling with sea turtles and dolphins; we saw the migration of humpback whales, we took a submarine 100 feet under the ocean and spent a wonderful sunset at a traditional luau. Jenny loved the character breakfast at what had to be a four-star restaurant with every satiable delicacy that could fit on a platter. Not only good food, but the company of Disney signature favorites all decked out in their island best. Seeing the glimmer of excited and innocence in eyes without a worry in the world may the trip for me. How great it was to see my little girl getting her peace and joy back. Having all of the kids together made everything more fulfilling. She loved having her big brothers and sister all together.
As we walked out of the lobby of the resort, Jenny looked at me with a full heart and said: “Daddy I’m gonna miss this place.” With that said I assured her that the best part of every vacation was going home and planning our next adventure. “This is just
the beginning baby girl.” Mission accomplished!
A very special thanks to WNY Make a Wish foundation, Disney Aulani, Around Town Limo and everyone who made Jenesis’s wish a reality.
Mike & Scotesha Shaw