HONOLULU (KHON2) — If you’ve heard them sing, you understand the joy they deliver. The Hawaii Youth Chorus made up of young boys and girls who share their love and aloha through song.
Something the choir has been doing so for the past 29 years under the energetic direction of Desi McKenzie.
“Every year has flown by” said Chorus Director Desi McKenzie. “And I’m just so happy to be able to create a platform where we are able to sing and making a difference through music”.
For Desi the connection between music and the love it brings is personal. Twenty one years ago her daughter Aubrey was born with special needs.
And it wasn’t much longer before Aubrey was adopted by KHON2’s Lokahi program. Something Desi initially turned down.
“I was called because we were on the make a wish list I was and I was shocked” aid McKenzie.”I didn’t know that anybody had nominated our family from the Make A Wish. But it was a particularly challenging year because Aubrey was going to be going through some surgery”.
So she asked Leslie Wilcox, who was heading the Lokahi project at the time, to do the story on Thanksgiving instead of Christmas, as a way of giving thanks to all who have supported her.
“We just wanted to say thank you but we didn’t expect what was about to happen to her family. It what happened was all these people I have helped over the years came back to us” said McKenzie..
That was 2001 and it was the first time she was asked to perform on the Ala Moana center stage to support the giving project. And she’s been there every year since.
With her daughters Ashley and Aubrey, and the choir all helping to make lives better for other families in need.
“I just tell my kids it’s not really about just standing on that stage of being your individual self. It’s about what you Laulima. Helping hands working together. So we do that so it’s the highlight of our year. We do many Laulima show is the one that we love to do the most”.
And although the music fills her heart, Desi says her the greatest source of pride is seeing her two daughters and the entire Hawaii Youth Chorus Ohana, pay the aloha forward.
“What we are doing is raising a generation and another generation now of philanthropists Who are going out into their own communities and creating their own events” said McKenzie..
“So that legacy that what you’ve course is leaving for those many singers over the years is what I am the most proud of as the director”.