HAWAII MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION GRANTS BOY’S WISH TO VISIT AMERICAN SAMOA
HONOLULU, Hawaii — Oodles of lei, stretch limousines, police escort, balloons galore, red carpet, Polynesian entertainment, a cheering crowd of paparazzi – and voila – 14-year-old TeeJay Mamea was granted his wish to visit American Samoa at Dave & Buster’s, off Ward Avenue on Monday, May Day, Lei Day in the Aloha State.
After his VIP welcome, TeeJay and his family were whisked upstairs to D & B where, amid relatives, volunteers, donors and media — Siana Austin Hunt, executive director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Hawaii — granted the teen’s wish to travel to American Samoa.
“So on Thursday morning Teejay is going to board a Hawaiian Airline flight bound for American Samoa,” Hunt announced.
He will visit with family and experience a place where many Samoan children born in Hawaii and the U.S. often hear about but never get to see.
“He’s never been to Samoa,” TeeJay’s mom Jocelyn Lemau Mamea told Faletuiga. “This is overwhelming … something we never expected. We thought it would be something small just for the family. He’s going to Samoa for the first time.”
Hunt acknowledged and thanked the community donors who helped Make- A-Wish to grant TeeJay’s dream trip. Community donors are: Dave & Buster’s; Hawaiian Airlines; Platinum Limousine; Tihati Productions; Hawaii Balloon Company; Augie T and IMF Visions.
TeeJay makes his home in Waipahu and is one of eight children. His parents are Jocelyn and Tiloi Mamea.
A year ago, TeeJay was living a normal childhood, participating in church activities, going to school at Waipahu Intermediate and playing at the park.
“He was a normal kid like any other kid,” Jocelyn said. “One day he stayed home from school and said his head was hurting …and he was vomiting. We took him to Kapiolani Children’s Medical Center because he had a headache. We were told he had GBM, Glioblastoma Multiforme. From his last biopsy on March 12 … he was normal … but last week there were dramatic changes.”
It was just a few months ago that doctors found TeeJay’s brain tumor. GBM is a fast spreading aggressive cancer that has abruptly slowed TeeJay’s motor skills, slurred his speech and impaired his vision. He can no longer play outside and needs assistance taking a shower and walking. An aspiring musician and avid ukulele player, TeeJay can hardly hold a ukulele.
“It’s a Grade 4 tumor, the highest grade for brain tumors,” said Jocelyn. “It’s heartbreaking to see.”
When asked if he would receive treatment for the cancer, TeeJay decided against it, his mom said.
“I asked my son if he wanted medical treatments … he said ‘no, we are children of God … to leave the rest in God’s hands and walk by faith’,” Jocelyn recalled. “He said ‘if God is willing to take me home then I’m willing to go’.”
Relatives, cousins, aunts, uncles and his maternal grandmother, Moenu’u Lemau of Pava’ia’i, were there for TeeJay’s wish presentation. Some relatives donned “Team TeeJay Walk By Faith” t-shirts, showing their support for TeeJay’s choice to not receive radiation or chemotherapy treatments.
Moenu’u just finished building her new home in Pava’ia’i where TeeJay’s big brother Atlast is waiting for his little brother and family to arrive.
Through tears, Jocelyn spoke to reporters thanking Make-A-Wish and all the donors and supporters who made TeeJay’s wish to see American Samoa, a reality.
“Thank you very much for everything … for giving my son the opportunity to fulfill his wish,” Jocelyn told Faletuiga.
Since 1982, Make-A-Wish Hawaii has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work, says www.hawaii.wish.org. The organization’s mission reflects the life-changing impact that a Wish experience has on children, families, referral sources, donors, sponsors and entire communities, adds the site.
TeeJay and a contingent of 12 family members depart Honolulu Thursday, May 3 via Hawaiian Airlines, for Pago Pago International Airport.
He still hopes to meet The Rock.
Manuia lava le malaga TeeJay ma le ‘aiga.