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Ethan Learns to Surf on Hawaiian Adventure of a Lifetime

  • Ethan surfing

  • Ethan riding the jetpack

  • Ethan and sister surfing

  • Ethan and the jet pack guide

  • Ethan and his family at the Westin send-off party

  • Ethan and his siblings

  • Ethan getting ready to ride the jet pack with family

  • Ethan on the Westin Flow Rider

  • Ethan and his family

“ It was so much more than just a trip. ”


- Alison

As one of six kids in his family, and as one of three of the six kids with a life-threatening muscular condition 14-year-old Ethan understands that vacations are a luxury. Not only is travel expensive for a family of eight, it is also difficult due to the needs of Ethan and his siblings.

When his parents Ben and Alison found out their three kids were eligible, they were surprised and very happy to know that someone was as interested in making their children happy as they were.

“At first, I didn’t think Ethan would qualify - that any of our children would qualify,” said Ben. “I didn’t know what the parameters were. We thought that all Make-A-Wish kids were terminal or near terminal, and we just didn’t have kids that fell into that category.”

Ethan and his two sisters all deal with with the same form of motor and sensory neuropathy.

It was the children’s clinic, CRS, that notified the family that their three kids were eligible for a wish.

“I tear up just talking about it,” said his mom, Alison. “It really was a dream.”

Ethan’s sister Sadie, who loves Mickey Mouse, wished to go to Walt Disney World for her wish. His older sister Noelle wished for a Caribbean cruise adventure.

But Ethan, who has a love for any activity that involves water, knew immediately that his one true wish was to travel to Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I’ve never been there, but I knew it was a really cool vacation spot,” said Ethan. “I have always wanted to go, especially to swim in the warm water and see all the fish.”

Ethan and his family went snorkeling, swimming with a variety of fish including Ethan’s favorite – a barracuda! The entire family rode jet packs, and they also received an exclusive trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial with their own tour guide.

However; the one thing that Ethan wanted to do above anything else during his wish trip was learn to surf.

“I really like to try new things, so the whole experience was really fun!” said Ethan.

Ethan’s dad, Ben, shared his enthusiasm for the surfing experience, reflecting on the time riding the waves with his four oldest children as his most fond memory of the vacation.

“When we were surfing, Ethan caught a wave and I happened to catch a wave right next to him,” said Ben. “For a few seconds, we were surfing next to each other and it was a special moment that I’ll never forget.”

Another unexpected perk of Ethan’s wish trip was connecting with other wish families who were also on vacation in Honolulu at the same time.

“Ethan met other Make-A-Wish kids, which was great,” shared Alison. “For me, it was incredible to see that, even though the location was the same, each wish experience was so personal and unique. Each detail was really about that one child and what they envisioned for their wish.”

Since their wish experience, Alison has had time to reflect on how their time spent in Hawaii has made Ethan a much happier child.

“He knows it was a blessing and a once in a lifetime opportunity for our family to be able to all go together,” said Alison, who loves seeing Ethan back in school swimming competitively and spending time with friends.

“It was so much more than just a trip. Ethan always talks about the memories he made on his wish and now he’s just a very, very happy kid.”

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