Birth­day boy a VIP

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By NIGEL MOFFIET

CYS­TIC fi­bro­sis pa­tient Matthew Ryken vividly re­mem­bers look­ing for­ward to Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park when he was a young­ster in the nearby Star­ship chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal.

He’s equally en­thu­si­as­tic now as he gets ready to at­tend the lat­est event as a very spe­cial guest.

Ryken is the win­ner of Fair­fax Me­dia’s Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park 21st Birth­day pro­mo­tion.

He will be shar­ing his 21st with the show when it kicks off at the Auck­land Do­main on De­cem­ber 13 from 7.30pm.

And he’ll be do­ing it in a spe­cial VIP area, ac­com­pa­nied by up to nine guests.

Ryken was born with cys­tic fi­bro­sis and once spent both his birth­day and Christ­mas in hos­pi­tal.

He re­mem­bers how ex­cited he was when he got the chance to get out of the ward and go the con­cert.

‘‘I’ve been in and out of hos­pi­tal my whole life. I go in once or twice a year for two weeks at a time.

‘‘Some years I can go three to four times . . . if my lungs get an in­fec­tion then I have to go in for IV an­tibi­otics,’’ Ryken says.

‘‘I got a lot of presents in the ward on Christ­mas Day. I knew a lot of the nurses and doc­tors re­ally well,’’ he says.

He looks for­ward to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the show once more, al­beit un­der dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances.

‘‘The last two birthdays I’ve been work­ing so haven’t been able to go.

‘‘I haven’t been for a while but be­ing up the front will be a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence so that will be cool.’’

Ryken also won a Co­caCola gift pack and a Fair­fax Me­dia sub­scrip­tion as part of his prize.

He will be tak­ing his fam­ily along to the al­co­hol­free event and will meet up af­ter­wards with friends, in­clud­ing a work­mate who is turn­ing 21 on the same day.

The show’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Cherie Mathieson says there will be a few sur­prises on the night. ‘‘We want to present mul­ti­ple mem­o­rable mo­ments so the kids go ‘whoa, that was amaz­ing’.’’

This year’s spec­tac­u­lar lineup in­cludes songstress Lizzie Marvelly, record­ing artist Ria Hall, singer Barry South­gate, award-win­ning coun­try vo­cal­ist Tami Neil­son, Lavina Wil­liams and Ti­ta­nium’s An­drew Pa­pas.

Coca-Cola Christ­mas

in the Park is sup­ported by Fair­fax Me­dia, owner of the Cen­tral Leader, and do­na­tions col­lected on the night will go to Youth­line.

Photo: NIGEL MOFFIET

Party time: Matthew Ryken is the win­ner of Fair­fax Me­dia’s Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park Birth­day contest. He’ll be cel­e­brat­ing his 21st on the same day as the popular fes­tive sea­son con­cert.

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