Imagine the dark life of an abused, neglected child trying to find her way through the roadblocks set by a mother and father caught in the strangling web of drug abuse. Think of the trauma of traveling to the Mainland as an infant to suffer further in that stranglehold and then become infected with spinal meningitis.
Now picture the sun rising over the West Maui Mountains on a crisp, clear morning, casting a field of warmth and light across Lahaina Town. See Loke Basques Rosenthal, now nearing her 18th birthday and graduation from Lahainaluna High School, emerge from the modest apartment she shares with her family to bask in glory of her newfound pathway of life.
Loke was just three when her grandparents, Phyllis and Don Rosenthal, took custody of her along with older brother Malu and younger sister Leilani.
The big picture showed the Lahaina community embrace the children, while grandpa and grandma wrapped their collective arms around Loke and her siblings to provide them with an upbringing based upon Christian family values.
It is a constant refrain heard here on the West Side - the true grit life with roots in the plantation days - that sets the youngsters on a pathway to fulfilling, joyful lives. Money and stature mean little; love and respect are paramount.
The aloha of the Lord, her family and the community surrounded Loke, nurturing her past the shadows of those dark early days and forward to the present.
Don has become an icon for youth sports here in Maui County as the founder and former commissioner of the West Maui Youth Basketball League. The program has progressed to overflowing capacity and become a rich feeder program to the high school teams. The Lady Lunas, under the guidance of Todd Rickard, have been particularly successful with ten straight Maui Interscholastic League championships, a state title in 2010 and a runner-up finish this year.
After growing up in the WMYBL, Loke has been a part of that Lady Lunas' success as a lightening quick swing player and MIL All-Star over the past two seasons. Plagued by undisciplined play, however, she oftentimes found herself in Coach Todd's doghouse, as well as in academic trouble.
She righted the ship in her senior year, bringing a fire and a slashing-style of play to the Lady Lunas, and brought her grade point average to 3.0. Then came the brightest light to grace Loke's young life thus far.
Warner Pacific College women's basketball coach Mathew Gregg had seen Loke play in person and on film, and he was impressed with her speed on the court. It just so happens that Malu, her brother, is attending Warner Pacific on a golf scholarship.
One thing led to another, and now she is accepting Warner Pacific's offer to attend the school and play basketball. She will receive almost full financial aid.
"I am so happy, and it feels so good to be able to go to college where Malu is," said the soft-spoken Loke. "This was such a wonderful surprise for all of us. The best part is that I will be able to continue to play basketball - and in college!
"I am just so thankful to everyone, especially to my grandma and grandpa. Without them, all of this just wouldn't have happened. We - my brother and sister - just wouldn't be in this position without them. They have given us a happy life," Loke concluded.