Generosity gives medically fragile child first birthday party

Lei Ho
Lei Ho
Chance Matthews
Chance Matthews

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - He's legally blind and 95 percent deaf, but that didn't stop Chance Matthews from turning 10 years old in style. On Saturday, he enjoyed his first birthday party, and it didn't cost his family a dime.

His mom, Lei Ho, said, "This birthday today is something that I never thought would happen. This birthday today is overwhelming."

In 2001, Chance Matthews was born four months premature. He had chronic lung disease and detached retinas. The doctors said his chances of survival were slim. But now, this young fighter has beat the odds. Chance has relied on a feeding tube his entire life and has trouble breathing. Still, he doesn't let those hurdles hold him back.

It's a struggle when the bills come, but his mom Lei works hard to give Chance a fighting chance. She mentioned, "It's very difficult as a mom. I'm a single mom trying to take care of a special needs child, and not being able to work because of the limitations, it's very difficult."

Home care nurses have been taking Chance to Dole Plantation for the past four years. It gives mom a break and helps Chance learn.

The Human Resources Administration Manager of Iron Horse Development, which runs the train, told us, "I found out that all of our staff here is in love with this boy. He comes once a week. It brings him the greatest joy, and so started in contact with the family and found out it was his birthday."

Generous hearts turned into generous donations for the best birthday of his life.The celebration took two and a half weeks to plan.

Iron Horse Development donated this train ride, and then Dole Plantation donated tents, food, all the other fun things for chance to have the best birthday possible. Lei said, "That's what makes him happy, is being on the train!"

Karlyne Sadanaga, who's the Operations Manager for Dole Plantation, said it simply, "It was just something small that we wanted to give back to him, because we feel that he's a part of our family here. He's a joy, and he just brightens up our lives, and he just makes working here just so wonderful."

Lei focused on being thankful for her son's birthday blessing, "Dole Plantation has made this so special, so special. Something for us to remember."

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