According to PEOPLE, two young sisters named Ryley and Rylyn, who live in Oahu, Hawaii, were thrilled when they thought they had met their favorite animated character from the movie “Moana.” During a grocery shopping trip with their mother, Rella Rivera, a few years ago in Kapolei, the girls were surprised to see a cashier who looked remarkably like Maui from the popular Disney film. The sisters were so excited that they could hardly contain themselves.
The girls became excited and started jumping up and down as they recognized William Va’ana as the character Maui from the movie. Va’ana’s tall and robust physique, as well as his long wavy hair, bore an uncanny resemblance to the character. The girls were convinced that they had discovered Maui working as a cashier at Costco. When Va’ana realized what was happening, he joined in on the fun and sang Maui’s famous catchphrase “Chee-hoo!” along with the girls.
Rella Rivera, the mother of the two sisters, shared that she was overjoyed to see her daughters’ excitement upon seeing the Maui lookalike cashier. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to capture the moment on video before the cashier, named Will, greeted the girls with a loud “chee-hoo.” Nonetheless, she managed to record the encounter and posted it on YouTube. In the video’s description, Rivera revealed that her daughters often looked for the “real life” Demigod, Maui, whenever they visited Costco. She also thanked Will, who does character appearances as Maui for parties and had worked at Aulani Disney resort, for making her daughters’ day.
According to Hawaii News Now, the cashier, named Will Va’ana, said he had grown out his hair to try a new style and only realized the resemblance to Maui after the release of the movie. He didn’t intend to resemble the character, but he was thrilled to bring joy to the sisters every time they visited the store. Va’ana only learned about the viral video after his colleagues at work informed him the next day.
He explained, “I’m not that great on phones honestly. I’m barely on social media. I came to work yesterday and everybody was like, ‘Eh, you went viral.’ I’m like, ‘OK. What does that mean?'”
The YouTube video has amassed over 5.5 million views and received over 16k likes. However, approximately 18 months after the release of Va’ana’s video, it was revealed on his Instagram that he had been diagnosed with Moyamoya, a rare brain condition. The announcement on his Instagram account requested prayers and mercy for William Va’ana, also known as Maui, as he underwent brain surgery on the following Tuesday.
Following the surgery, the family provided an update two days later, announcing that the operation had been successful. An Instagram update on January 20, 2020, indicated that William was on a positive path towards recovery. The update mentioned that his memory was gradually improving as it is a standard healing process after surgery. Currently, Va’ana is actively involved in raising awareness about Moyamoya and, in August of this year, he even dressed up as Maui to attend a little boy’s first birthday party.