All hands on deck for Captain Kate
Kate Thompson has endured more than most teenagers should have to, but next month she will have a wish come true that will have seafaring buffs green with envy.
The Whitby 15-year-old has multiple sclerosis – an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.
She was diagnosed with MS at the age of three, the youngest person in Australasia to have it at the time.
It has been kept in check for more than a decade but the past 12 months have been rough, with Kate spending time in intensive care fighting the condition.
Hospital visits have become part of her everyday life. She is spending less time at school and is now 80 per cent blind.
Kate’s attitude and outlook on life, however, have not diminished, and her passion is being on, in or under the water. She has her diving certificate, is a proficient waterskier and attends the Sea Cadets in Mana when she can.
So, when her parents filled out a Make-A-Wish application at Wellington Hospital last year and asked her what the wish would be, there wasn’t much hesitation and Disneyland did not enter her mind: ‘‘I want to be the captain of a navy ship.’’
Her father Richard said learning that the Make-A-Wish Foundation and New Zealand Navy had arranged for Kate’s wish to come true was ‘‘really, really special’’.
‘‘It’s wonderful, she’s so into the Sea Cadets and the water. The Make-A-Wish people have done all the hard yards and we’re just rapt.’’
This Saturday, Kate, mum Carole and a friend from Sea Cadets will attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of the navy, before they head aboard HMNZS Otago in Wellington Harbour on October 4 for a two-day trip to Auckland.
Kate said she was really excited to hear her wish had been granted, and it heightened further when she was told she would be wearing a special uniform for the journey.
But the thing she’s looking forward to most?
‘‘Being the captain of course. I can’t wait, and apparently we might get to sleep in the captain’s quarters. I really want to stay well enough so I can travel.’’
Richard understands the navy has arranged things so she gets the full experience of life aboard the vessel. He says it is a great tonic after a difficult year.
‘‘It’s been pretty hellish, just continuous hospital stuff and treatments. Kate always looks for the bright side and something like this has come at the right time, given her something to look forward to.’’
Nautical wish: Whitby’s Kate Thompson is ‘‘likely to give the captain a hard time’’ says her dad Richard of her two-day journey on the HMNZS Otago next week, organised by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.