Ryan, 14, was the typical teenage boy indulging in video games, hiking, soccer, and camping. When he was thirteen years old, he began experiencing a lot of muscle pain throughout his body. Being tall for his age, his family believed the pains were due to growth spurts. It wasn’t until the pains surfaced in his face that his family knew something was wrong.
Ryan was diagnosed with leukemia. He has since been undergoing a 3.5 year chemotherapy treatment plan. This long and painful process began to take a toll on his emotional health; it wasn’t until the declaration of his wish, that his mom saw him smile for the very first time since his diagnosis.
He wished to go to Hawaii—specifically, to visit Pearl Harbor. His visit to Pearl Harbor was unique as he got to see an exclusive area of the ship where other tourists are not allowed. The exclusive tour made seeing the USS Missouri ship so much more special for him. Ryan was also able to visit the Polynesian Cultural center where he and his family joined a luau in his honor.
Ryan aspires to be a marine biologist and couldn’t help but love all the living things in the Hawaiian aquariums he visited. He had a great time quizzing all of the aquarium employees about the types of fishes in each tank. He concluded his wish trip by touring the interior of a submarine ship!
Ryan’s mom said his joy throughout the trip was obvious. “Ryan did not stop smiling,” she said. “He just kept saying how lucky he was to have the opportunity to be there. He kept saying ‘I am one lucky kid’.”
The wish trip was a life-altering experience for Ryan and his family. His mom described the trip as a unique walk down memory lane. “I was the same age as Ryan when I went to Hawaii for the first time,” she explained. “Being able to see Ryan experience the same feelings I remembered having, was amazing. I loved seeing the same look of wonder in his eyes. I hadn’t seen that look in his face for a long time. I knew we were getting our Ryan back.”