Health help for kids
In most ways five-year-old Kaiya Miller is exactly like any other new entrant at Matamata Primary School.
The only difference is, Kaiya was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness at just three-weeks-old.
Kaiya suffers from cystic fibrosis, a condition that affects a number of organs in the body (particularly the lungs and the pancreas) by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus.
CF has also caused her to develop diabetes and has affected her ability to digest food, meaning she is fed exclusively through a tube in her tummy.
Kaiya spends months of the year in the children’s ward at Waikato Hospital and last year was one of the faces of the Countdown Kids Hospital appeal.
The appeal is now in its seventh year and to date has raised $5.7 million to provide essential equipment for 10 New Zealand children’s
Kaiya’s mum Glenny said she had seen firsthand the positive affect the funding has had at Waikato Hospital.
Proceeds from the appeal meant the hospital now had breathing monitors and Neopuffs (infant resuscitators) that are crucial in providing care to children with conditions such as CF and whooping cough.
‘‘There’s just not the budget in the hospital to provide some of this equipment,’’ said Glenny. ‘‘ Countdown Kids is an amazing initiative . . . it saves children’s lives.’’
The majority of children’s wards across the country were not as well known as Starship Children’s Hospital, she said.
‘‘Waikato is closer to home and we think the world of the staff there. They are like our extended family.’’
Countdown Matamata staff member Joanne Walker has taken on the role of Countdown Kids Champion for the last three years. Champions are in charge of fundraising in their area and this year Joanne is determined to raise as much money as possible.
She met Kaiya at Waikato Hospital two years ago and said the five-year-old has ‘‘stolen her heart’’.
‘‘ She is just an awesome little girl,’’ she said. ‘‘She’s always smiling.’’ Joanne has a number of fundraising ideas up her sleeve and is asking the Matamata community for their support.
Local businesses can help by donating items to be raffled or sold in a silent auction and are welcome to organise their own fundraising events.
Residents can do their part by donating unwanted items to be sold at the Matamata Markets and providing home baking or toffee apples to be sold at the Countdown checkouts. Schools are also encouraged to help out by holding mufti days or wacky hair days. One hundred per cent of the proceeds go towards funding equipment.
For Kaiya: Cystic fibrosis sufferer Kaiya Miller, 5, with Countdown Kids Champion Joanne Walker.