A grass skirt, a painted coconut, and pictures of a majestic tropical setting speak volumes to the positive and lasting impact of 5-year-old Ajianaye’s
wish. With the help of Make-A-Wish®
, Ajianaye and her family members were able to enjoy a week in paradise, offering them a much needed respite from the world of hospitals, medical visits, and doctors. “A week before we left for the trip, Ajianaye had a heart procedure,” explains her mother, Brandi. “I was worried she wouldn’t be able to enjoy her trip, but she couldn’t stop smiling during the entire wish experience.”
From the time she was a few days old, Brandi says her daughter was in and out of the hospital for an underdeveloped heart, which has led to heart failure. “Ajianaye was, is and will always be a fighter,” mom exclaims. “Her bright personality shines in all moments, even at the most challenging times.” Brandi says she was surprised when her young daughter told the wish granting volunteers about her one heartfelt wish – without hesitation and with much certainty, Ajianaye wanted to go to Hawaii and learn to hula dance.
A stretch limousine arrived at the family’s home bright and early to take them to the airport and Ajianaye was the star of the show. “She thought she was famous,” Brandi joked. Once the plane hit the runway in Hawaii, the family began a week-long adventure; sightseeing, swimming and exploring the vibrant sea life. Brandi says that Ajianaye wanted to participate in all of the activities the resort offered – a pineapple cutting class, learning to make leis, as well as poolside fun. “The staff nicknamed her the ‘Aloha girl’ because she was so friendly and upbeat.”
To help Ajianaye feel like a true hula dancer, she shopped for her very own grass skirt, complete with an authentic coconut top and handmade lei. After taking a few classes at the resort, Brandi says she was fearless when it came time to show her skills on stage after the resort’s luau celebration. “Ajianaye was giggling and shaking her little self, and everyone really got a kick out of her personality and spunk.” Brandi explains that the wish left her daughter feeling rejuvenated. “Her name in Hawaiian means ‘my beautiful lei’, and that’s exactly what she is.” Mom adds that her daughter, who has endured so much in her young life, is not defined by the scar across her chest, but by the memories and laughter that she exudes each and every day.
Wish story writer: Kate Glaser