Live Like Kainoa

Isaiah 40:30-31 – Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. 

Never in a million years did we ever see ourselves here standing here...on our feet, able to walk away from the eye of our family's perfect storm. Live Like Kainoa  Having strength, courage, and determination to not lose hope when all had seemed lost has been at times unimaginable yet instrumental in our survival.

On May 9th, 2017 our world changed forever.  Kainoa, our warrior, who had not been feeling well and under tremendous stress finishing up his sophomore finals was preparing to leave Seton Hall University for the summer ...and in the wings, God was preparing him for the journey of a lifetime.

Our family, 2400 miles away in Arizona, felt the first wave of helplessness as Kainoa was weak and unsteady, packing up his dorm by himself. During the move he bumped his left leg but pressed on and what we thought was a nasty chest cold quickly escalated to an emergency room visit prior to flying home. He was diagnosed with Pneumonia, but by the grace of God, was allowed to return to Arizona.  When he exited the plane in a wheel chair, pale and weak, our worst fear was a
reality. Kainoa was in desperate need of medical attention.

We entered our local ER where due to the psnemonia diagnosis, the doctors were forced to focus their attention on his heart rate, chest pain and difficulty breathing, but he was experiencing unexplained severe leg pain in his left thigh.  We quickly moved Kainoa to the ICU where he was being treated for kidney failure and being prepped for surgery. It was then that the doctors discovered Necrotizing Facetious aka flesh eating bacteria had surfaced on his left leg in the same spot that he had bumped during his move out of his dorm. His body began the battle of a lifetime as it rapidly attacked every part of him and he now faced septic shock. We were all experiencing the shock with him as the ground beneath us and our world as we knew it, began to shift. 

Our family was thrown into the perfect storm of panic, emotion, desperation, uncertainty and helplessness..we were drowning.  We were told countless amount of times how Kainoa would not make it and that if he did he would have severe brain damage. We made the first of many hardest decisions ever as parents, we agreed to removed a part of his hamstring and then any other affected areas. But the storm quickly turned into a category-5  monster as the bacteria grew out of control.  We knew we needed  more attention and so it was then that we moved him to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

Our new home at Mayo, where we lived on our tender knees, threw us life saver after life saver.  14 surgeries and 16 blood transfusions, 3 weeks in an induced coma and all throughout were told at every turn that our chances of survival were grim but we whispered to him, "Be strong, be courageous, God is here to Guide you, NOT take you!” Kainoa had his left leg amputated above his knee, his right leg below his knee; he lost his left hand and the fingers on his right hand with the exception of the nub of his thumb.  What he never lost, what wasn't taken, was his faith. 

Throughout the four months Kainoa spent inside of those hospital walls, as the news spread of his illness, our village of family and friends, created a collosal tidal wave of hope, overpowering strength, faith and overwhelming love.  Upon Kainoas discharge, the greatest
doctors in the world commented that it was by a higher power, and against all medical odds, that he survived and was able to leave.  It was that higher power coupled with our most incredible community of prayer warriors, that our chief warrior, Kainoa was able to resurrect and begin his magical Phoenix.

We are still humbled by the outpouring of love and support we received. If it was not for the blessing of those in our community who banded together and nimbly weaved prayer chains by the thousands, who offered financial support and coordinated every day logistics, I am not sure how we would have weathered this storm.

The last year has been REMARKABLE to witness.  As a quad amputee, Kainoa has endured many difficult days that have at times seemed impossible to face and has overcome tremendous obstacles with such courage and unwavering faith.  Today he is back at school as a junior at ASU majoring in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership working as an intern at K2 Adventures Foundation , using his story to inspire others through speaking engagements, walking on his own and training to climb and summit a mountain in Australia.

One year ago we were planning our 1st annual #LiveLikeKainoa golf event.  We were not really sure what the future would hold for Kainoa Spenser, but we wanted to bring hope to a young man still fighting for his life.  On September 9, we were blessed by his presence and his words that inspired us to live life with a little more gratitude, a little more joy and a lot more heart. 

BUT…as if there could be more…MOST INCREDIBLY he is developing a vision for a future foundation to give back! We are so blessed to have K2 Adventure Foundation presenting the 2nd annual LiveLikeKainoa golf event, we now have the ability to not only #LiveLikeKainoa but #GIVELIKEKAINOA! Kainoa has always had a heart of gold and helping others has always been his passion.  He is excited to grow his foundation as he contiues to heal and reach for dreams never looking back. Giving  back to the AMAZING coumminty that has done so much him and his family. 
We encourage you all to
Live generously,
Live selflessly,
Live humbly,
Live lovingly and
Live Like Kainoa 


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Jennifer Noelani Witham Spenser 
Scottsdale, AZ

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