Hawaiian native Ryan Naki-Poomaihealani cherishes every moment he gets to spend with family, because he knows each second is precious.
"My mom went through cancer when I was young, stage 3. It was hard times for me and my whole family, but by the grace of God we were able to overcome things," Naki-Poomaihealani said. "I'm just blessed to be here today."
And he felt especially blessed on homecoming weekend, when his mom visited Bismarck for the first time.
"Personally I haven't seen my mom in over a year," he said. "It just felt good being in their presence and just feeling like family--feeling like home out here in Bismarck."
After such a long time apart, the emotions were overwhelming.
"[We] Definitely cried and everything, but she was just proud of me and proud of all the work I've been going through," Naki-Poomaihealani said.
"It's a blessing. It's always a blessing to see my son again," his mom Malia Naki said. "I miss him dearly. We talk a lot on the phone and FaceTime, but it's always nice to see him in person."
And while she watched UMary win their first game of the year, Naki also got to experience Bismarck weather for the first time.
"It's pretty beautiful out here," she said. "The weather is pretty cold. I'm freezing my buns, but we'll get used to it."
For Naki, the temperature could've been -30 and it wouldn't have mattered, because for the first time in a while, she was watching her son play the sport he loves.
"Just chills. It's just a blessing to be here, being in the stands," Naki said. "He had one good stop in the beginning of the game. It was awesome. It's a pleasure to be here."
The Marauders next play at MSU-Moorhead on Saturday.
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