Cheers and the sounds of “Hawaiʻi Five-O” filled the entrance to the Stan Sheriff Center, as University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students, faculty and staff, including the Pep Band, Rainbow Dancers and athletic teams, greeted 15-year-old Alyssa. The Make-A-Wish teen from Texas had been diagnosed with bone cancer and UH welcomed her with aloha.
As part of her wish, the avid basketball fan also got to spend some quality time with UH Wahine basketball players. She shot some hoops and showed them some of her skills, much to their delight.
“It was great meeting Alyssa today” said UH Wahine basketball player Sarah Toeaina. “Make-A-Wish made her wish come true and it’s a blessing to be a part of that.”
Alyssa wished to attend medical school at UH Mānoa to give her hope and a goal to work toward. The John A. Burns School of Medicine held a special honorary white coat ceremony for Alyssa and former UH basketball player and current first-year medical student Sai Tummala presented her with a basketball signed by his classmates.
Of her UH experience, Alyssa said, “It was amazing. I was super surprised, and it was awesome.”
According to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, accounts for only 2 percent of all childhood cancers. This year, 400 children and teens younger than 20 will be diagnosed with bone cancer. Alyssa wanted to use her wish to become a doctor and to treat “wish” kids like her.