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