All hands on deck for Cap­tain Kate

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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