Big day for ‘little soldier’
Hundreds turned out for a rugby match put on for a Napier boy with terminal cancer, Kingston Karangaroa-Mohi.
Kingston wore a stunned look as he alighted from the helicopter that had flown him to Tamatea Park and saw the large crowd that had assembled for him on Sunday morning.
The eight-year-old’s family learned two weeks ago that the cancer he has bravely fought for more than four years is terminal and the time he has left with them may be short.
Kingston was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in March 2013 when he was just four. He completed treatment in July last year, only to relapse in December. He underwent a bone marrow transplant from his younger brother Alfie, 5, in April, but unfortunately, that was unsuccessful and now there is no further treatment available.
Since getting the news on Friday 13th, Kingston’s family and friends have worked tirelessly to see he ticks off as much of his wish list as possible within the little time he has left.
He’s a huge fan of rugby but his illness meant he was never able to play. One of his wishes was to see one more rugby match. Organisers had no problem rustling up fully-kitted players from Kingston’s family’s club, the Napier Pirates, and another local club Tamatea, and a match was duly held with Kingston watching on atop a makeshift throne, surrounded by friends and family. He even managed to take to the field for half an hour.
One of the organisers, Kate Frame, said the day ‘‘couldn’t have gone better’’.
‘‘He knew a bit about what was planned, but I think he was quite taken aback by just how many people turned out. It’s a real tribute to how many people he has touched in his short life. He really is such a warm, loving and loveable little boy,’’ Frame said.
‘‘I’d say we had close to 400 people turn up. We had about 100 motorbikes come along at one stage, with members from all gangs, which was bit of a surprise. I have no idea who won the game. It’s not really that important, obviously,’’ she said.
‘‘And the support and generosity from people in the community has been incredible’’.
She said Kingston was ‘‘absolutely exhausted’’ after the event, which began at 10am and finished at around 2pm. ‘‘He spent that entire time wearing his big grin and talking and cuddling with people,’’ she said.
His mum Patrice said Kingston was ‘‘basically born with a rugby ball in his hands’’.
‘‘He’s always loved it, but because he’s always had a line in his chest he’s never been able to play. I’ve always said if he didn’t become an All Black he’d become a sports commentator. He knows all the players, everything,’’ she said.
There was never any question Kingston would have played for Pirates, with his parents and grandparents fervent players and supporters at the club, which is also the home club of All Black Israel Dagg, a good buddy of Kingston’s.
‘‘Throughout his treatment we’ve always called him our soldier. It’s just incredible what he’s been through,’’ Patrice said.
Kingston, who turns nine next month, was in hospital a week earlier for a blood and platelet transfusion to give him a bit more energy to keep him going, she said.
‘‘We don’t know how much longer we’ve got left with him. We’re not focussing on that. We’re looking at what we can do with the time that we have. We’re going to make every day he has left amazing,’’ she said.
Among other things this has seen him fly to Invercargill with Alfie to ride on some diggers and a spending a day as a police officer in Napier. ‘‘We’ve tried to do all the things he really wanted to do or be. He always wanted to be a police officer and that day he had on Wednesday was just incredible. He got all dressed up in a cop outfit,’’ she said.
Kingston KarangaroaHapi wears a broad grin at the game at Tamatea Park.