Make-A-Wish child lights Hyatt’s Christmas tree

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Make-Wish Foundation children prepare to light Hyatt Regency Saipan’s enormous Christmas tree last Friday at the hotel’s lobby. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

A Make-A-Wish Foundation child lighted Hyatt Regency Saipan’s new Christmas tree last Friday to kick off the hotel resort’s holiday season.

According to the Hyatt Regency Saipan director of finance Yosh Gabaldon, Hyatt has been hosting the Christmas tree lighting ceremony for 30 years, using the same plastic tree.

“This is our kickoff for the holiday season. We actually retired the tree that we’ve had for over 30 years and we got a new one,” said Gabaldon.

Preparations for the lighting ceremony took approximately two months. Friday’s event included live performances by the Hopwood Middle School HDMP band and over 30 select Hopwood students sang Christmas carols.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation Guam and NMI Chapter was also invited. This year, Make-A-Wish child Kei’ani Hofschneider was asked to light the tree.

Hofschneider is 8 years old and has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes mellitus. She is currently in the process of getting her wish to visit Disneyworld granted.

Hofshneider’s mother, Sirena Santos, said she feels honored that her daughter was chosen to light the enormous tree displayed at the Hyatt lobby.

“It’s not everyday she gets to do this. It’s truly an honor,” she said.

According to Santos, although her daughter has a life-threatening condition, that doesn’t stop her from having a normal childhood.

Make-A-Wish Foundation board member Kanae Quinn said it is a really nice gesture of Hyatt to recognize these children and allow them to take part in something special.

Gabaldon said the lighting ceremony isn’t just a good way to end the year but is also a treat for the workers to see the amount of hard work everyone invested in preparing for the holidays.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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