Tane and Laura North started their hikoi for Elijah on March 13 in Wellington. Source: Facebook
In a bid to raise $56,000 for their three-year-old son’s therapy, two parents from the New Zealand Defence Force, Tane and Laura North, have completed a 700km hikoi from Wellington to Auckland.
The parents received a warm welcome from around 50 of their friends and whānau at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Saturday after the 11-day hikoi.
Their son Elijah, also known as 'Wonder Boy', was born with microcephaly, a medical condition in which the brain does not develop properly, resulting in a smaller than normal head.
He also has an undiagnosed genetic condition affecting most of his body so he cannot speak, is legally blind, fed through a tube and has a total of 14 health issues.
Elijah. Source: NZDF
“Because we don’t really have anything in New Zealand quite like the three-week intensive programme that he receives over there,” says Tane.
The best part about the hikoi for the dad was spending time with his son Elijah.
“It got a little bit tough as we got closer to the finish and our energy levels were a bit low, but nothing that some water and a few smiles from Elijah couldn’t fix.”
Tane says Elijah walked a short distance at the beginning and end of the hikoi.
“He was a little bit under the weather but still managed to put his feet down and walk the final line for us.”
Elijah took part in the hikoi on a treadmill at the Army Museum in Waiouru.
Another highlight of the hikoi was receiving support from people along the way, especially from RSA members from Hunterville and Marton.
“One gentleman just had his leg replaced with a knee reconstruction and he was out there walking with his cane. He walked the last few kilometres to Hunterville with me,” says Tane.
The halfway point was at the Army Museum in Waiouru where treadmills were set up for members of the public to come along and contribute to walking the distance.
Waiouru Primary School also got involved and held a fundraiser where students from three classrooms ran the distance of 63km between them. Overall, they raised around $1,000.
Elijah has received treatment at the Neurological and Physical Abilitation Centre in Sydney four times already.
During the sessions, he receives physiotherapy, speech and language therapy.
“It’s abilitation as opposed to rehabilitation, so it’s giving someone the ability to do something and that’s what we’re doing for him. So, all these things enable him and give him a better chance at a better quality of life.”
Tane says since Elijah has been visiting the centre he’s grown stronger, is more mobile, more attentive and his hearing is “supersonic” because he’s had to use his other senses to make up for his bad vision.
Elijah’s parents are hosting an auction on April 15 where people have donated items in support of Elijah.