Previous Beneficiaries

Kahalau Au Hoon

Kahalau Au Hoon – a fun-loving, adorable three year old from Maui

I’m Kahalu’s mom, Rachel Ray Au Hoon. Our story is one about love and family! Duke, Kahalau’s dad, and I met in high school and were even prom sweethearts! Kahalau is our second child born in May, 2014 on our home island of Maui. We wanted to spend more time with our two children, Kahalau and Honi Honi, and thus decided to quit our jobs to open our own art business. We started in open air market venues but within a year I was able to get my artwork into 10 galleries and 4 restaurants and we now have a small gallery in Kahului, Maui called U’i Gallery.

Our family was living a happy life on Maui when in June 2017 we noticed something wasn’t right with Kahalau. One weekend during a family outing, Kahalau who had recently been unstable on her feet at times, couldn’t even stand up. Something obviously was not right but we had no idea what it could be. Why was our perfectly rambunctious little 3 year old seemingly deteriorating before our eyes? We had taken her to the doctor several times because she was unable to maintain balance and was very fussy at times. It was labeled as ataxia and lactose intolerance.

I decided that weekend that it was time to go to the emergency room and figure out why my child was so sick, why she was walking irregularly and suffering leg pain. Cancer didn’t even come to mind, we thought maybe it was vertigo or some type of infection.

A scan of her brain at Maui Memorial didn’t reveal anything. Since nothing was found, we were flown to Kaiser Moanalua to get more detailed imaging of her brain. An MRI, however, found nothing. They even did a spinal tap and still found nothing, so I asked for a CT and MRI of her abdomen because she had also been complaining about her stomach a little as well. Duke and Honi Honi flew over that week for the results.

As I held Kahalau in my arms recovering from sedation and feeling awful the doctor went over the CT scan results and showed us a very large mass that covered her entire abdomen across her stomach and kidneys. We cried in disbelief but had to be transferred to Kapiolani Hospital for a biopsy. Finally after two weeks of living in the hospital, Kahalau’s diagnosis was confirmed as Neuroblastoma Stage 3 High Risk. The next day she started her first round of chemotherapy on a clinical trial with frontline treatment in addition to targeted molecular medicine.

Kahalau was such a trooper every step of the way. After her first round of chemo, we were discharged and went to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. While there her count recovered and she walked more than she had in a month. She was starting to be a happy and active child again. After another round of chemotherapy, we saw more improvement in her walking and she began to eat more.

Kahalau is still undergoing chemotherapy treatment but remains active and is known to inspire other patients at the hospital. One Mom commented how her son did not want to walk for a few days and seeing Kahalau playing in the halls with her IV Pole made him walk more than he did in a while! She still has her tough days but she is so strong and pulls through even managing to display her silly personality, laughter and love of singing.

We are look forward to the day our daughter is no longer in the hospital fighting cancer and we are honored and excited to have UVSC at our side.

Tekaurinuiotekaupapawaka Kaʻuluku Hideo Tanaka

If you ask Tekauri what his favorite color is he will tell you, “all the colors are my favorite colors.” Tekauri sees the world through a unique and original lens that is beautifully and always positive.

In December of 2020, Tekauriʻs mom and dad noticed a lazy eye and took Tekauri to get glasses but that did not seem to help little Tekauri. They took Tekauri back to the doctor a few weeks later because he was now having trouble with his balance. While Tekauri was in the hospital in January of 2021, an MRI revealed a large tumor located in Tekauri’s brain stem. Tekauri and his mom were immediately transported via medivac to Kapiolani Hospital on Oahu where two days later Tekauri underwent surgery to remove the cancerous tumor.

Prior to the surgery, Tekauri was entertaining all the nurses and bragging about the cool things he could make in minecraft. After the surgery, however, Tekauri was unable to talk, swallow, or move his body. Mom and dad found out the fast growing tumor was a malignant and rare type of cancer. The fast growing nature of his type of tumor made it important that Tekauri begin treatment within 4 weeks to improve his chances for survival. Therefore, Tekauri statyed in the hospital where he turned 6 years old. The nurses made a special poster for him, family and friends sent gifts. Tekauri left Kapiolani to begin his six week treatment of Proton radiation and chemotherapy in Seattle where he had to have special support to help keep his head up as he was not able to hold his own head up, walk, or move his arms.

While in Seattle, Tekauri pushed through radiation and chemotherapy. As part of his proton radiation treatment he had to wear a special mask to keep his head still. The nurses decorated the mask into Tekauriʻs favorite cartoon character. Tekauri continues to heal and he no longer needs a neck brace and he has began moving more and can now walk slowly. Three weeks into treatment in Seattle his brother, Kalaeʻula, and sister, Kamani, came up to stay with him as well as his grandparents. Tekauriʻs health and overall well being improved by having his siblings and grandparents around, he was happier and more motivated to move and do things. Tekauri spent a lot of time sitting next to his grandpa on the couch watching basketball games or sitting along the edge of the lake. Unfortunately, grandpa passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack while in Seattle. On April 23, 2021 Tekauri and his family returned home to Hawaii after spending eight weeks away. They stayed beyond the six weeks in order for Tekauri to receive intensive physical, speech, and occupational therapy at Seattle Childrenʻs Hospital.

Tekauri has since begun his 11 month maintenance chemotherapy plan and is receiving treatment on Oahu at Kapiolani. He continues to progress and the family is confident that one day he will be walking and talking normally on his own. Mom, Kala Baybayan Tanaka, is a community teacher of Hawaiian voyaging and navigation, she is a navigator and crew member on voyaging canoes Hokuleʻa, Hikianalia, and Moʻokiha. Dad, Daniel Tanaka, works in the Mauna Kahalawai watershed (West Maui) as a conservationist, both parents have taken leave from their work to focus on Tekauri and their family.

Tekauriʻs mom believes that all children battling cancer are heroes and she continues to learn so much from her own son’s fight. She, along with her family and friends are inspired daily by Tekauri’s strength, love and resilience. UVSC, along with the entire Maui community, stands beside them to help provide that much needed strength and hope.