Make-A-Wish Recipient Experiences ‘Real Hula’ at Merrie Monarch

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“I want to see real hula!” 8-year-old Colorado Springs native Faith Sullivan told the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

While other kids her age may have asked for a trip to Disneyland or to swim with dolphins, Faith’s Make-A-Wish request was to attend the 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival.

The ho‘olaulea that opened this year’s festivities delivered “real hula” and so much more, not only for Faith but for her parents and five siblings, who range in age from 3 to 13.

Faith Sullivan participates in “real hula” at 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival as part of her Make-a-Wish request. Darde Gamayo photo.


The director of the Merrie Monarch Festival, Luana Kawelu presented Faith with a gift bag filled with Merrie Monarch goodies.

”We are so happy to be able to be a part of this child’s wish and wanted to make it more,” said Kawelu.

Throughout the festivities, Faith and her entire ‘ohana were showered with lei from the different performing hālau as well as the audience.


Faith, the honorary hula dancer of the day, was also presented with two different hula pāʻū (dance skirt) of her own to take home with her—in pink, her favorite color.

She and her ever-so-willing ‘ohana took to the dance floor to learn and participate in several hula numbers throughout the day-long event at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Make-a-Wish recipient Faith Sullivan and her entire family participate in “real hula” at 2017 Merrie Monarch Festival. Darde Gamayo photo.

Mom Chelsey Sullivan told the crowd, “Faith was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is cancer of her blood. Her prognosis is improving and we saw a huge improvement in her number when she found out she was coming here to see, as she put it, ‘real hula.’ She is kicking this thing’s butt!”


Thinking they would just be a part of the crowd at the ho‘olaulea, Faith’s dad, Joshua Sullivan, said, “We didn’t know what to expect. This is beyond our wildest dreams. The outpouring of love we felt here is unbelievable and we don’t know how to put it into words.”

As the day wrapped up, it became obvious to all involved that wishes really do come true—especially when you have a little Faith.

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