Big day for ‘lit­tle sol­dier’

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARTY SHARPE

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.

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