Laulima: Family, friends, local businesses put together dream wedding for fatally-ill cancer patient

Courtesy of ARIA Studios

It’s a story that is equal parts heart-wrenching and heartwarming.

The warmth came from a young woman dedicated to her family, it came from her family and friends who gave back and it came from strangers, people like you, who stepped in with a hand up, the true meaning of Laulima.

We first introduced you to Debbie Peralta last December, surrounded by her family, mom, dad, siblings, friends, her two children and her boyfriend of 12 years Ryan.

Courtesy of Cristal Peralta
Courtesy of Cristal Peralta

They were at the offices of Robert Half, which adopted Debbie and her family for the holidays.

Also, Makaha Elementary parent facilitator, Brenda Abaro had nominated Debbie for our Laulima Giving Program at the time.

“She’s a giver and now she’s a receiver and at first she told me no,” said Abaro.

Abaro says despite being diagnosed at age 28 with breast cancer, Debbie was always helping her children and their school.

As Christmas came around, Debbie asked for nothing for herself, despite the return of her cancer. Doctors had just given her two weeks to six months to live.

When asked if there was there anything else that Debbie would wish for, she responded, “I got everything I need, which is my family.”

What Debbie didn’t know was that her sister Cristal’s Christmas wish was to give Debbie her dream wedding.

Cristal rallied family and friends, and KHON contacted our clients.

“The story hit me real hard so I told Lauren I would love to be involved in any way possible whatever they want whatever they need we would love to donate,” said Kolby Akamu Moser of ARIA Studios.

The Wedding Cafe also responded.

Courtesy: Rachel Robertson Photography
Courtesy: Rachel Robertson Photography

“The amazing thing is that I sent out one email to our entire membership and within minutes I had people writing back and saying please let us know how I can help,” said Lauren Williams with The Wedding Cafe.

Two months later, Saturday, February 28, Debbie’s dream came true at Maili Beach Park.

The Wedding Cafe, ARIA Studios, Watanabe Floral, Wedding Cake, Tanioka’s, Flaunt Makeovers, Rachel Robertson Photography and more were involved in the event.

Along with the long list of businesses, family and friends made the wedding possible. It truly took hundreds of hands working together in the spirit of Laulima.

The next day, Debbie entered the hospital.

The next day after that, Debbie passed, she was 31 years old.

Cristal says Debbie wanted to hold on for the wedding and that it was just as she envisioned.

Courtesy of Cristal Peralta
Courtesy of Cristal Peralta

Debbie’s family says her ashes were scattered on the Waianae Coast. They said if you go toward Makua, look for Kulailai.

Part of Debbie’s therapy was to beautify the overlook area, which her loved ones will continue.

If you would like to help Debbie’s family, Laulima is still accepting monetary donations. You can e-mail laulima@koka.org, call Keiki O Ka Aina at (808) 843-2502 or click here and use the ohana code: LS-039.

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