Make-A-Wish Hawaii: Why No Mom Should Ever Go on Such an Amazing Trip


Isn’t it interesting how life sometimes throws us into groups or communities that we never really intended to join? Sure, we plan to become a married couple. We (sometimes) plan to become a family with children. We plan to become a military family. We often plan whether we’re going to be an outdoorsy family or an academic family or an artsy family.

But nobody ever plans to become a cancer family.

That is not the club we wanted to join but here we are, card carrying members, wearing our teal cancer ribbons, writing about chemotherapy and raising awareness and raising funds.

But not in this post. No, today I get to tell you that after a year of surgeries and needle pokes and poisonous toxins being pushed through my 16-year-old daughter’s body, we had a blessing.

My daughter made a Wish.

Mina’s Make-A-Wish

Most of us are familiar with the Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants Wishes to children with critical illnesses. What I didn’t realize prior to my daughter’s diagnosis was how life-changing a Wish can be.

First of all, just knowing that she had the opportunity to make a Wish gave my daughter something to look forward to after chemo. More than just being done with the treatments and growing her hair back, Mina had something fun to ponder and plan and research while she went through six months of chemotherapy treatments. She had something fun to talk about with her doctors and nurses.

She had more than a bell to ring at the end of her long journey. She had a Wish to make.

Mina, now 17, wished to go to Hawaii, so last month all 7 of us (Mama, Daddy, Mina, and our 4 other kiddos) flew 12 hours to paradise. There are no words to describe what the amazing people of Make-A-Wish did for our family. Every detail was so thoughtfully planned out, from the transportation to the airport to the hotel suite we stayed in to the family pictures we received.

These people know what they’re doing. They know what Wish families need. They know what Wish kids want. And they know how to take all of the stress and worry out of Wish trips, so the parents can actually relax and enjoy the trip, too.

No Worries

While every parent is thrilled to see his or her child’s Make-A-Wish come true, I have to be honest and say that the highlight of the trip for me was not having anything to worry about. I got to show my husband and my kids the Hawaii that I fell in love with 20 years ago, and I didn’t have to stress myself out in the process. Make-A-Wish handled everything. 

As my husband previously pointed out to someone, when your medical bills pass the $300,000 point, it starts to get really overwhelming. Despite receiving assistance with some of the cost, we’ve had a lot to pay out of our own pocket, and we’ve gotten used to saying “no” to a lot of things we’d like to give our kids this past year.

But not in Hawaii. No, on this trip, every reasonable request was answered with a smile and a grateful “Yes!” Can we have donuts for lunch? Yes! Can we eat ice cream out of a pineapple? Yes! Can we buy our friends a souvenir? Yes! Can we have breakfast with Mickey Mouse at Aulani? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

On the first morning of our adventure, they picked us up in a limo to take us to the airport … pulling a trailer! With 5 kids, we have a lot of luggage, and I worried about how we’d get it all there, but they came prepared with plenty of time and plenty of room. That’s when I finally relaxed. They really do get us.

They provided our plane tickets, our hotel, our excursions, our mini-van rental, our meals, and even spending money. They covered everything and even threw in extra little surprises like a traditional Hawaiian lei greeting at the airport and VIP treatment at the Polynesian Cultural Center. They told us to wear our Make-A-Wish buttons everywhere we went, and they were so wise to do that. Those blue buttons make people around you a little bit more patient, a little kinder, and their smiles become a little brighter. And that makes any vacation a little more relaxing.

If you or someone you know is headed to Oahu through Make-A-Wish, I provided much more information about what to expect on my personal blog, here

The Big Three

Mina’s wish to go to Hawaii came with the opportunity to choose three things that she’d really like to do most while on the island of Oahu. 

Her first choice was to go horseback riding, but she could have never imagined where they would send us. On our first full day on the island, we went horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch, in the valley where Jurassic Park was filmed along with other films such as Kong and 50 First Dates. The mountains were breathtaking, the fog was mystical, and the leftover movie props were downright cool. At the end of our two-hour ride, I didn’t even care that I could no longer feel my left leg. Some things are just worth it.

Her second great adventure was a helicopter tour of Oahu and Blue Hawaiian certainly did not disappoint. Our pilot was extremely knowledgeable of the area and answered all of our questions about Oahu … and all of the movies that have been filmed there because, you know, teenage girls have priorities. There truly is no better way to tour the island and take in all the beauty that Hawaii offers.

Her final choice really encapsulated why Mina chose Hawaii in the first place. She wanted to learn everything she could about this tropical paradise. She wanted to experience Aloha and she found it at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Similar to a mini Hawaiian version of Epcot, the PCC took us from Polynesian island to Polynesian island where we got to experience the culture of each people group.

We got to watch tribal dances, learn how to start a fire with a coconut, and weave fish out of palm branches …. all great life skills. The day ended with a luau and a traditional Hawaiian extravaganza of fire dancing, hula dancing, and all things Aloha. What made this amazing place even more over-the-top for us was that VIP treatment that I mentioned earlier. We had our own personal tour guide named Fani (from Tonga) who we have adopted into our family and are now Facebook friends with (because that’s how we roll). When it spritzed rain, she ran to get us ponchos. When it got hot, she brought us fans. When the kids wanted a snack, but the show was about to start, she took our cash and brought back bowls of tropical deliciousness. We were totally spoiled. But even more importantly, she was a BEAUTIFUL human and we absolutely adored her. The highlight of our time with her was when she took us to the ukulele shop and taught us all how to play You Are My Sunshine. The family that strums together, stays together … or something like that.

On Our Own … Together

Make-A-Wish had these great excursions planned for us every other day, so that we could enjoy some down time or take in other sites. We got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and Stitch at a character breakfast at Disney’s Aulani resort on our own. We took time to learn, reflect, and remember at Pearl Harbor. We sampled amazing pineapple treats at the Dole Plantation. We met up with a friend for dinner at the food trucks in North Shore and explored the lazy little beach town. We swam and we shopped and we explored and we adventured and we did it all together. 

We’ve been home now for about a month and not a day has gone by that I haven’t taken a moment to look through our pictures … again. At least one of the kids says every day that he misses Hawaii.

My husband and I certainly miss being so carefree and not worrying about obligations and responsibilities and most of all, bills. But we know what a blessing it is that we were able to go and we don’t take that gift lightly.

Even more so, the sheer fact that we were able to go on any trip at all says that we’re the lucky ones – our daughter is still with us, still fighting, and that means more than any trip or any gift that money can buy.

But just like the cancer club is no club any family would want to join, a Wish trip (no matter how amazing!) is not a trip any mom should ever want to go on.

A Wish trip indicates the risk of your child’s life being taken all too soon. A Wish granted means that at some point, someone told his or her parents that they were about to begin the fight of his or her life. 

A Wish trip is an amazing, wonderful vacation that no mom should ever have to go on.

Ironically, some people will begrudge a Wish family of their blessing. Some will find it unfair and others will think that Wish families don’t truly deserve such elaborate gestures. But to a Wish family, that child’s Wish is everything.

Wish it Forward

Mina and I have both decided to become Make-A-Wish Ambassadors and as such, we love taking the opportunity to tell people about our journey and how they can help other children receive a Wish of their own. For more information, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has a number of resources available on its website to help individuals, families, and groups support their goal to grant every critically ill child’s Wish in America.

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Heather Tabers
Heather is a writer and homeschool mama living the dream in Central Florida. Her greatest titles include Mother of 5, Wife of a Wounded Warrior, and Unashamed Daughter of God. She believes life can be messy and beautiful at the same time which is why she enjoys writing stories with a little bit of grit and a lot of grace. When she's not writing, Heather can be found playing with her two furbabies (Murphy & Maisy), spending hours at the dinner table laughing with her family, reading a good book, or binge-watching a good period drama. Heather also donates her time to a wonderful non-profit that shines light into the dark places. She serves as the Communications Director at Love Missions Global, an organization that fights human trafficking by empowering survivors and educating the community. To follow Heather's writing and her quest to publishing her first novel, visit