The Sulunga-Kahaialii family celebrated Christmas early this year, bonding over a weekend while swimming, eating and just hanging out at a Wailea resort before they they would be separated - possibly over the holidays - with a family member needing to be in California for a medical evaluation.
The nonprofit Wailuku-based A Keiki's Dream fulfilled the wishes of the family's three boys, who are currently at home in Napili, apart from their 11-year-old sister, Anamaria "Sina," their mom, Chrissi, and father, Tui. Their parents and sister are at Stanford Medical Center for Sina to be examined by doctors for her upcoming kidney transplant and for heart problems.
The three boys, Danny, 15; Chris, 13; and David, 10, wished to stay at a hotel with their whole family before the trip, a wish fulfilled the first weekend of this month at an oceanfront villa they had all to themselves at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, courtesy of the hotel.
The boys from the Sulunga-Kahaialii family enjoyed their shopping spree at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center courtesy of A Keiki’s Dream this month. The boys, (from left) Danny, 15; David, 10; and Chris, 13, got their wish of staying at a hotel for a weekend. The entire family stayed at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui in Wailea compliments of the hotel.
A Keiki’s Dream photo
The Sulunga-Kahaialii family from Napili was able to spend a whole weekend together recently at The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui courtesy of the hotel and A Keiki’s Dream, a nonprofit Maui organization that helps make dreams come true for children in crisis. The family’s three boys were able to receive their wish to all be together for the holidays before their sister and parents left for California to attend to their sister’s medical needs. Shown are (from left) Chris, 13; mother Chrissi; Sina, 11; David, 10; Danny, 15; and father Tui.
A Keiki’s Dream photo
"It was neat. They enjoyed it. We enjoyed it," said Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii. "It was good timing. Since . . . (Sina) got sick, we haven't done anything with (the boys).
"Literally everything has changed for us. Having just that time to spend together and them being allowed to do whatever wish they wanted, that was great. Everybody enjoyed it. They really enjoyed it," Sulunga-Kahaialii said last week, shortly before she, her husband and Sina headed to the Mainland.
Darby Gill, founder and executive director of A Keiki's Dream, said wish organizations are waiting to fulfill Sina's dreams when she gets a little stronger, but his organization wanted to go ahead and honor the boys' dreams, because the boys are going through their own trials dealing with their sister's illness and the altered family routine.
"Every person in their family is in crisis," Gill said, noting that siblings may have myriad emotions, because they do not know what is going on with their sister.
"We wanted to make sure we gave something to them," he said.
A Keiki's Dream has fulfilled more than 1,400 dreams over the last two decades for Maui keiki and supports children with hope and encouragement at critical times in their lives, a news release said.
On Dec. 1, the dream began with the three boys each being given $200 gift cards from A Keiki's Dream for a shopping spree at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Then, the boys were taken in a vehicle from TLC Limousine to the Kea Lani, where they met up with Sina and their parents.
At their villa, the family had a private chef cook up a Christmas dinner for them. The whole villa was decorated for Christmas, complete with presents under the tree. The family also was treated to a breakfast buffet and a pizza and ice cream party the following day.
"They were nice, and everybody was really great with the kids," Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii said.
"The Fairmont Kea Lani is very proud to support A Keiki's Dream," said General Manager Charles Head, in a news release. "We hope our part helped bring a little more cheer to the Sulunga-Kahaialii family this holiday season."
Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii said her boys all enjoyed the events.
At the shopping spree, Danny bought clothes and cologne, Chris bought some game cards and video games, and David bought toys.
The boys' dream also gave family members a respite from their normal routine and caring for Sina.
Instead of being tied to their Napili home, Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii found herself helping Sina with her dialysis in her own private bedroom at the villa. The youngster has to undergo dialysis four times a day.
Sina has to be monitored for her cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease, as well.
Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii said doctors are waiting to see how Sina is progressing with her heart condition before proceeding with a kidney transplant.
Tui Sulunga-Kahaialii will donate a kidney to his daughter, whose medical problems arose late last school year.
The former King Kamehameha III Elementary student is now home-schooled because of her illness.
Because of Sina's condition, Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii had to quit her office job.
"It's hard," she said. "My husband is the only one working at this time. He works for Ritz-Carlton. They have been really helpful as well. Financially, it has changed a lot for us. (But) the kids are great about it. . . . They don't really expect a lot."
Chrissi Sulunga-Kahaialii said many community members, organizations and businesses have helped the family through their ordeal.
A Keiki's Dream is accepting donations for the family to help pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with Sina's treatment as well as to keep up with their daily expenses.
To learn more about A Keiki's Dream or to donate to the family, visit www.akeikisdream.org or call 242-8476.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.