Ka‘ahanui Family Salutes Hospital

Children's Miracle Network Hawaii Champion Ikaika Kaahanui (front) celebrates the network's fundraising radiothon with parents Solomen and Amanda (behind him), KSSK DJ Curt Williams and special guests. Photo courtesy of Kapiolani Medical Center.

Aikahi Elementary fourth-grader Ikaika Ka’ahanui will fly to Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Fla., Oct. 8-16 as Hawaii’s advocate for hospitals in the Children’s Miracle Network.

The busy 9-year-old’s life kicked up a notch after he was named Hawaii’s CMN Champion in May. The Waimanalo family – Ikaika, mom Amanda and dad Solomen – make the rounds to support the charity’s money local fundraisers, such as the annual Radiothon for Kids Aug. 22-23 that brought in $151,088 for Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children. It’s Hawaii’s only CMN hospital out of 170 nationwide.

KSSK personality Michael W. Perry, a key player in his station’s 28-hour radiothon, called them “the two most inspirational days of the year.” It featured dozens of patients like Ikaika and caregivers who shared their Kapiolani miracle stories on air, showing how vital the hospital’s service is for our island-bound youngsters.

“If everyone living in Hawaii gave $1 or $5 to Kapiolani, we could turn this event into millions of miracles,” said Amanda Ka’ahanui, who knows every part of that hospital well – from ER, to pediatrics, imaging, rehab and intensive care. “We’re so excited,” she added, “to give back to the hospital that has given us a healthy child.

“Ikaika is part of a group of kids who have survived amazing things,” she explained, and it’s been “really cool” to meet all of the local CMN supporters. Since the day he was born, their son has endured life-threatening health problems and a dozen surgeries, including an ongoing procedure this summer to implant a bone-anchored hearing aid. It started from day one when a congenital hole between his trachea and esophagus caused him to gasp for every breath. Tracheal tubing was removed when Ikaika was 7, helping him to grow stronger even as he continues therapy for speech and feeding functions at Kapiolani. The active youngster communicates using American Sign Language as well as speech, and has special attention on Aikahi’s “total communication” campus.

He also spends more time at Honolulu Zoo than the average child: Solomen is zookeeper to the chimpanzees, and Amanda is head instructor for the Honolulu Zoo Society. His favorite animal there? The hippos. His favorite place? The turtle ponds at Waimanalo Beach Park.

Ka’ahanui’s one-year ambassador role requires him to raise awareness about the 10 million children treated every year at CMN hospitals, so the family’s October trip, courtesy of Delta Airlines, will serve to highlight the network’s vital fundraising mission via ceremonies, awards, parades, a DisneyWorld visit and more. Ikaika also makes appearances here at home during his one-year reign.

However, the main thing for the Ka’ahanuis, said Amanda, is “looking forward to my son being a typical teen who can eat me out of house and home!”