Jordan Wills, center, a 9-year-old leukemia survivor from Kamuela, was Hawaii's representative in this year's Champions Across America, a national Children's Miracle Network program. He is shown with his parents, 'Eleu, left, and John Wills during their trip to Washington, D.C.
9-year-old is isles ’ national ‘champ’
Nine-year-old Jordan Wills returned to his Waimea Elementary School third-grade class after a recent trip with a "cool" story to tell about his adventures.
"It was cool to meet the president and cool to go to Orlando, Fla.," said Jordan, a leukemia survivor who was Hawaii's representative in this year's Champions Across America, a national Children's Miracle Network program.
Jordan was allowed to take three people on the trip, March 26 to April 5, to Washington, D.C., and Orlando. He was accompanied by his parents, John and 'Eleu Wills, and grandmother Lani Olsen-Chong, all of Kamuela. John Wills is purchasing manager at the Mauna Lani Hotel; 'Eleu is room coordinator.
Jordan was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2001, his mother said in a telephone interview. He was being sent home from preschool every other day with a fever, and after about three weeks she realized something was wrong, she said.
A blood test indicated he had leukemia, and the family was referred to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, where Jordan was treated by pediatric oncologist Robert ("Dr. Bob") Wilkinson, she said.
Wills said she stayed with an uncle in Honolulu for about six weeks while Jordan was being treated, first as a patient, then on an outpatient basis every other day. After returning to the Big Island, they would fly back and forth every three weeks so he could have overnight treatment, she said.
He has been in remission since July 2004 and "is doing really well," she said. "He is excellent. He participates in sports. He plays football, baseball. He's a normal kid. He does everything a normal kid would do."
Jordan was one of about 60 "champions" at the Children's Miracle Network -- one from each state and each Canadian province -- and said he has a lot of new "best friends."
"It's an experience that we will never forget," Wills said. "We have tons of pictures. Jordan loves to show everybody his photo albums and tell people what's happening at that moment."
In Washington, D.C., all the children were able to meet President Bush at the White House and take a group picture with him, and "parents got to shake his hands," she said. "It was a cool experience. You know you'll never be able to do that again."
The family met U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, and he arranged a personal tour of the Capitol for them.
Jordan "liked everything, but probably best when we went to Orlando," she said. "He got to go to Disney World and meet the Jonas Brothers," a band on the Disney Channel, she said.
At the Children's Miracle Network Celebration in Orlando, Jordan was one of two children chosen to present awards to outstanding doctors and nurses.
Each champion was given a medal in a special ceremony, she said. "I don't think there was a dry eye in the room."
Tomorrow is National Survivors Day, and Jordan's story will be featured at 7 p.m. on the Kapiolani Children's Miracle Network television program, "Medicine, Miracles & Aloha," on KITV. The story also will be aired at 11 a.m. Monday, 8 p.m. Thursday, 3:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. next Saturday and 1 p.m. June 10.