LITTLE LEAGUE U.S. CHAMPIONSHIP
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paliku Winchester, 5, who has lymphoma, smiled at his grandmother Eve Duque yesterday.
Boy’s cancer battle inspires Waipio team
The little brother of a Little League player has been undergoing chemotherapy
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When 12-year-old Pikai Winchester steps up to the plate for the national Little League championship today, his first thought will be his brother.
WATCH WAIPIO'S WONDER KIDS
» Waipio vs. Lake Charles, La., on KITV-4 today beginning at 9 a.m.
» Friends and family of the team can gather at the Mililani Golf Course Restaurant, 95-176 Kuahelani Ave. Doors open at 9 a.m. For more information, call the restaurant at 625-2256.
Paliku Winchester was diagnosed with pre-B cell lymphoma after his fifth birthday in February when a lump behind his left ear was determined to be cancerous. Since then, Paliku has been undergoing chemotherapy at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.
At Paliku's grandparents' home in Kapolei home yesterday, grandmother Eve Duque said, "Every time Pikai hits a home run, it's for his brother."
"He looks up to Pikai, not realizing that he's Pikai's hero," Duque said.
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Paliku Winchester, 5, who has lymphoma, bashfully pressed his head to his grandfather Maury Duque at his grandparents' house yesterday afternoon. Paliku's brother, Pikai, is playing for Waipio in tomorrow's Little League national championship game, which Paliku will watch on television.
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Waipio Little League baseball player Pikai Winchester's drive to play his best today will be for his younger brother who is battling cancer.
Those interested in helping the Winchester family with Paliku's medical bills can make a donation to any Bank of Hawaii branch. Checks can be made out to "Friends of Paliku."
"He has dedicated everything to him," said their mother, Rena, during a phone interview form Williamsport, Pa.
Paliku Winchester, a kindergartner at Holy Family Catholic Academy, was to watch his older brother on television at the Mililani Golf Clubhouse with his grandparents and many of the team's family and friends as the baseball players compete for the national championship today.
It has been a challenging year for Paliku, who was diagnosed with pre-B cell lymphoma shortly after his fifth birthday in February. A lump found behind his left ear was determined to be cancerous. The youngster has been undergoing chemotherapy at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children since immediately after his diagnosis of the cancer, which spread to his neck and left armpit.
While in San Bernardino, Calif., where the Waipio team competed in the Little League Western Regional, Paliku lost all his hair and suffered from severe dehydration.
He was immediately taken to the hospital where he stayed for a night. Soon after, his parents traveled back to Honolulu where Rena's parents are caring for him until they return from Pennsylvania. Rena's sister is helping to care for their youngest son, Waipehe, 2.
Once they heard of his plight in San Bernardino, several of his brother's teammates as well as the team's coach, Timo Donahue, shaved their hair in support of Paliku.
"We felt the aloha from the team," said Rena.
Side effects from the treatment have caused Paliku to become lethargic and moody. It also causes him to have cravings for some of his favorite foods like shrimp tempura and meat jun, which grandparents Maury and Eve Duque have happily provided.
Paliku's grandmother said the year has been a whirlwind, but so far, Paliku is doing well.
Like his older brother, Paliku played baseball with a team called the Waipio Dirtbags earlier this year.
"He's a slugger," said his grandfather. "He was hitting so well." He stopped playing while undergoing treatment and misses the sport. "When he's in a good mood, he'll say 'I want to play baseball.'"
After undergoing treatment yesterday, Paliku entertained himself with his Transformers toys and Nintendo DS game in the living room of his grandparents' Kapolei home, taking a moment to tell his grandmother that he was hungry.
As she watched her cherubic-faced grandson play with his Nintendo, she said, "He looks up to Pikai, not realizing that he's Pikai's hero."
His grandmother said he gets excited when he watches his brother on television.
"Every time he hits a home run, it's for his brother," she said.
For Pikai, 12, a sixth-grader at Holy Family, his first thought when he steps up to bat today will be for his brother. "This is for you, Paliku," he said.