Rory Gardiner's Webpage

26, Sep, 2011

Monday 26th September 2011

An angel came to see us. Her name is Melissa Long and she passed away from leukaemia in 2006, aged 17. Before her death she asked her parents to set up something to help Taranaki kids like her who had faced adversity. Terry and Tanya started the Mellowpuff Charitable Trust, in memory of Mel and the mallowpuffs she loved. As the deadline loomed for paying the airfares for our trip to Florida in tears I talked with Sean about pulling out. I had exhausted every avenue for funding and there was no other option. Then the phone call came. In an emotional meeting with Terry the Trust gifted Rory $5000 to pay for the tickets. There were tears, smiles, handshakes, hugs, and excitement. I felt the enormous pressure crack wide open. We want to thank Melissa, the Mellowpuff Trustees, and Carolyn Arthur who recently completed the Auckland marathon to raise money for the Trust, for their wonderful gift. In the words of Rory “it was outstanding”.

This visit was followed by the generosity of friends, neighbours, colleagues and strangers who donated $3500 following the publication of a story about Rory in the New Plymouth Midweek newspaper. We even received a bag of possum fur! Thank you all so much. We are now able to pay the basic expenses of the trip, and allow Rory and his brother Sam to pick something off their wish list. I know Rory is very keen to visit Legoland.

I wish you could have seen Rory yesterday morning. We volunteered for the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust. The bush around Lake Rotokare has been divided into a grid, and tunnels placed on the ground at 50m intervals. A piece of card with an ink pad in the middle is placed in each tunnel to monitor which animal species are moving through. The Reserve is surrounded by a predator proof fence and animal pests have been removed. The Trust, in the first instance, is looking for any re-invasion. Yesterday new cards were placed in all the tunnels. It involves bashing through the bush following lines marked with flagging tape tied to trees. It is steep and slippery. The bush is healthy, thick and full of supple jack vines. Sam and Rory were in their element, climbing like monkeys, slipping and sliding, getting muddy and dinged up. It was a challenge for Rory and he gave it heaps, at one point comparing himself to Bear Grylls. Rory has a tonne of guts and it has carried him far.

Last weekend we attended the planting event at Te Rewa Rewa Bridge on the New Plymouth Coastal walkway for the Living Legends project as part of the Rugby World Cup. A total of 170,000 native trees are going to be planted at 17 locations nationally by the end of the project in 2015. There were plenty of Taranaki volunteers (400+) armed with spades so it was light work, and it didn’t take long to plant the back of the dune.

Things have been quiet for Rory, and I’m glad. It’s not often he gets a stretch of ‘normal’, bar the nightly injections. Last night I got out the photo albums to show the boys their first visit to Lake Rotokare when the predator proof fence was being built. It was 2006 and Rory was four with a full head of hair. I hardly recognised the boy who looked out at us. Many parents grieve for the child they have lost but I have refused. While Rory is with us I will continue to look forward and be grateful. Rory has been really enjoying school. In addition to his teacher Miss Smith, who Rory is impressed by, there is a student teacher in his class room. Mr D’Arth is knowledgeable about all sorts of important things. I was even corrected this morning about a piece of black rock I had collected and assumed to be obsidian!

In contrast Sam has had a busy fortnight. He was awarded Intermediate student of the week at school, and following his final soccer game was awarded most valuable player of his team for the season. He had scored over 50 goals! He frightened the life out of me one afternoon, showing up at Rory’s class made up like a zombie for the movie his class was making. I thought he was hurt and bleeding. Sam spent the night at school for a kapa haka noho. The group is participating in the Taranaki competition in a few weeks and needed extra practise time. Sam competed in the Taranaki cross country champs and came in the middle of the pack of 11 year old boys. He has vowed to do better next year, so he and I have re-commenced running on Saturday mornings. We must have made an interesting sight covering 6km through the streets of Inglewood; Sam in front, Rory following on his trike, and me eating both their dust. I keep telling Sam it’s only temporary!

Colt has had his 9 month check at Plunket. He is now 8.5kg and 70cm long. Surprisingly he is only on the 25th percentile, so I don’t think he is going to be an All Black. He has a great sense of humor, and sat still and tall on the scales bare-bottomed and smiling while the Plunket Nurse took his weight. He loves being the centre of attention. He has the company of Dee-ann on a Wednesday and Gemma on a Friday at Porse. He loves Sharon, the Educator, but lights up when the girls are around. Congratulations to Sharon and her husband John for being made New Zealand citizens this week.

I want to send a hug to my cousin Jason who is recovering from knee surgery, and his wife Wendy who is looking after him. I hope you are back on your feet, and out from under Wendy’s, soon. Last but not least Happy Birthday Janine!