Maelee, 12, has no problem getting up for school. Every morning, she is eager to head to class, most specifically history classes, and she’s a member of her junior high’s student council. It’s everything she has to do before she goes to school that takes a toll on her.
“She wakes up early to do 45 minutes of breathing treatments for her cystic fibrosis and she takes 60 pills a day, including pancreatic enzymes to help her digest food,” said her mom, Kamarah. “I had heard about Make-A-Wish from other CF families, but I wanted to make sure Maelee’s wish would benefit her at a time she needed it most.”
In between a hospitalization and an upcoming sinus surgery, Kamarah decided to refer her daughter for a wish – and it turned out to be something the whole family needed, too.
“I wished to go to Hawaii because I wanted to see the clear ocean and swim in the warm water,” said Maelee. “Plus I like learning about World War II history so I was excited to visit Pearl Harbor.”
“We were so surprised when we found out her wish was happening,” said Kamarah. “Two of Maelee’s siblings also have CF and our family would never be able to go on a trip like this on our own. Maelee’s wish lifted us out of the day-to-day endless worries about the kids being sick and we could enjoy this time together as a family.”
Maelee, along with her parents and three siblings, traveled to Oahu where they explored Ko’Olina and North Shore beaches. One huge highlight for everyone was the beach right outside their hotel.
“In Hawaii, Maelee’s mornings were a little different. The kids would go to the beach and play in the mornings before our excursions and again every evening,” said Kamarah. “We went on a submarine ride and snorkeled together and when Maelee jumped in the open ocean you could see the joy in her eyes. It was great to see her without a care in the world, feeling good and so full of adventure.”
“The snorkeling was my favorite part for sure,” said Maelee. “If I could describe my wish in three words, it was fabulous, joyful… it was paradise!”
The family also spent days visiting the LDS Temple and Polynesian Cultural Center; then during their trip to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Maelee made some unexpected friends.
“We experienced kindness from so many strangers,” said Kamarah. “Our tour guide, who was in active duty and had the same last name as us, really connected with Maelee and we enjoyed talking with him. At the end of the tour, he said we were like family to him then took off his name badge to give to Maelee. That meant a lot to us and it was such an honor.”
Maelee is currently participating in a CF research drug study and the souvenirs she brought back from Hawaii continue to remind her of her wish each day.
“We still talk about Maelee’s wish all the time and this experience has improved her confidence and boosted her self-esteem,” said Kamarah, who believes the happy memories from Maelee’s wish will help her when there are darker days ahead. “She always carries her Hawaii lanyard everywhere she goes, both physically and in her heart.”