Meet sixteen-year-old Maka Almarza, from Waipahu. His sisters call him “Mr. Aloha” because he has such a friendly and outgoing personality. He has a collection of hats and is always seen wearing one!

Maka has been fighting a brain tumor since he was three years old. The tumor, which was treated successfully in 2005, returned in 2015, was partially treated, and returned again in 2017. Maka has complete hearing loss in his right ear, partial loss in his left, and blurred vision which makes it difficult to attend classes at Pearl City High School. His mother, Nalani, is his full-time caregiver, therefore unable to work.

The Almarza family has endured many challenges over the years. Maka lost his older brother, Malu, who tragically drowned as a toddler. His nephew, Keawe, was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy in 2015 and passed away this past July, also on service with Hospice Hawaii. Through these challenges, the Almarza’s continue to grow closer and stronger as a family. They remain faithful and positive through Maka’s life journey and even have a Facebook group called #Pray4OurHeroMaka to spread awareness of childhood brain tumors and have a place where friends and family can send prayers and encouraging words to Maka. Nalani believes that losing her son and grandson prepared her to help other families who are going through similar situations. She organizes candlelight ceremonies through her church to help other families heal.

MAHALO to everyone who donated Little Things that made a Big Difference to her Maka and his family. They have endured many challenges over the years. Together, with your donations, we were able to give Maka and his family many memories they can cherish this holiday season, including movie passes, fishing equipment, and a stay at Aulani Resort!