Ellie was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two. She was introduced to Kama the Surfing Pig on YouTube.
While in treatment she would absorb herself in watching Kama’s adventures with Dad, “Kai” Holt. After a year of treatment, at the age of three, the doctors deemed her medically able for travel. Her dream was to watch Kama surf, so her parents, sisters and brother set out on a joyful celebration journey to the island of Oahu, Hawaii to meet Kama and to visit a beach for the first time. After months of planning and contact with Kai, the family was on heading to Hawaii in September of 2016.
Kama’s Dad, Kai contacted the Sea Inspiration team to partner up, and we along with a host of supporters, friends and partners came out to help support and film Ellie’s dream.
Ellie and her family brought purple grapes to share with Kama. She carefully lined several out onto Kai’s surfboard and waited for Kama to come out to meet her. He was busy looking for food in the bushes when she arrived.
Shy at first, Ellie quickly warmed up and, in no time, was holding onto Kai’s hand and petting her new friend Kama.
The whole family joined in the fun and had a great time playing in the sand and learning to surf. Ellie did exactly what she wanted to do… watch Kama surf!
In fact, the family was so happy about this exciting day that Ellie’s mom wrote us a heartfelt thank-you letter – please read below and check out the cute pictures of Ellie (who her mother calls by her full name Eloise).
We, at Sea Inspiration, are very thankful to be able to be part of making a wonderful child’s wishes come true! Hawaii’s beautiful scenery and weather make it the perfect place to host these positive experiences and give these special young people a memory they will never forget; one that will give them peace and happiness each time they think of it!
To learn more about this program, please visit our Healing Adventures page!
Letter from Eloise’s mother Jenica:
Our lives were forever changed on a little slice of paradise called Oahu. After watching our three year old daughter battle every day for a childhood that was being robbed by leukemia, we knew we had to do something to honor her courage and tenacity. When Make-A-Wish Idaho denied Eloise her wish of meeting Kama the surfing pig, Erik and I knew we couldn't let no be the answer. There is nothing we wouldn't do for our children, including taking our family to Hawaii to celebrate Eloise and the strength that our family was able to find amidst the biggest battle of our lives.
What we didn't expect to find on Oahu was the incredible feeling of ohana. From the minute we arrived, to the teary goodbye seven days later, our family was treated with such care and love. The day we were able to meet Kama, Kai, Ray, and Patti was one of the most beautiful days we had on the island. Kai and his team showed us the aloha spirit that Hawaii is so famous for. The way they cared for Eloise elicited smiles and joy that had been so rare since her diagnosis. The impact of their generosity is still affecting our family. Eloise has had several hard days since returning home and talking about Hawaii always perks her up. Our school aged kids have had to process so much fear and uncertainty about their sister's future and their teachers have been able to use our Hawaii experience to encourage them and help them remember the good that has happened to our family. The healing waters of the ocean and the salve of the sea breeze brought our family together and allowed us to find immense healing and peace.
As Eloise's parents, we can't thank Sea Inspiration and Kai enough for the gift of their friendship. They showed our family that leukemia doesn't define our story, it's merely a chapter in it. They helped us find the courage to dream again. All it took was watching our kids learning to surf and playing with Kama on the beach to give us the power to reclaim what leukemia tried to steal from us.
Upon our return to Idaho, we decided to commemorate our trip by getting Eloise her very own pet pig! We welcomed Luku Ma Pua'a (Piggy the Destroyer) to our family in November. She has furthered impacted our healing and daily reminds us of Hawaii. This week marks the two year anniversary of Eloise's diagnosis and so many emotions threaten to overtake us but we continue to cling to our faith and to the aloha of Hawaii. Eloise is currently slated to take her very last chemo on August 13th of this year. We are eager to commemorate this milestone and finish this chapter. Perhaps it needs to be celebrated with another trip to Hawaii??
Here are a couple of updated Eloise pictures. The first is from one of her recent chemo clinic days, the second one is from Easter, and the third one is bedtime snuggles.
Thank you for loving our family as your own!
Erik and Jenica
Madelyn, Rosemarie, Abigail, Samantha, Eloise, and Jakob
All photos by Jackie Fiero