Aloha Tip Jar: A Maui eatery serves up aloha to help Wailuku family with medical expenses

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WAILUKU, Hawaii (KHON2) – In May of last year, the Nahoolewa’s life took a turn.

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“It’s a stage three Rhabdomyosarcoma and it’s a pediatric cancer,” said Ellen Nahoolewa, mother of Pua. “It’s found mostly in that group, pediatrics, and muscle and bone.”

Ellen learned that her daughter Pua was diagnosed with cancer.

“We just noticed some swelling and we thought it was a pulled muscle. So what we thought was swelling ended up being a tumor,” Ellen said.

The Wailuku family started the journey, traveling back and forth to Oahu for treatments.

“It’s just one of those cancers that can be tricky. So far, so good. We just take it day by day,” said Ellen.

“I think it’s made me appreciate more stuff and it kind of made me more confident and stronger than before,” said Pua Nahoolewa, who is diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma.

With the help of social media, Pua’s story caught the eyes of Maui Fresh Streatery, a local food truck in Kahului. The eatery decided to do what they do best and serve up aloha.

“Let’s reach out to them and see if we can do an aloha tip jar, just to help kind of offset some costs and pretty much just for whatever the family needs,” said Kyle Kawakami, owner of Maui Fresh Streatery.

For the entire month of January and February, the aloha tip jar is dedicated to Pua’s fight.

“When he reached out, I was a little shocked and I was like, Oh my gosh, that’s that’s an amazing honor,” Ellen said.

“It’s important, I think, especially in times like this with the pandemic going on and hardships, to let people know that it’s going to be okay and we’ll get through this as a Maui community,” Kawakami said.

Aloha has been ingrained in the Maui business from the start. Over the last eight years, the aloha tip jar has collected over $200,000 for those in need.

“Every month we designate another non-profit, a family in need, all here within Maui County and we want to donate those funds to to our community to strengthen and to better our community,” said Kawakami.

The Nahoolewa’s say they’re grateful and the love from their Maui community is unmatched.

“I know everybody’s struggling and everybody’s got their own things with this pandemic and everything in general. So to have somebody reach out like Kyle, is amazing and we appreciate everything the community is doing,” Ellen said.

Maui Fresh Streatery is open only on Fridays due to the pandemic.

The community can still donate to the aloha tip jar to support Pua’s journey until the end of February. Venmo donations are also being accepted. For more information about Maui Fresh Streatery, click here.

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