Walter Neilands is the new face of Kidney Kids
Kidney Kids NZ has a new face following the death of former patron and rugby legend Jonah Lomu.
Walter Neilands, a presenter on Sticky TV, has been announced as the charity's new kids ambassador.
Neilands first realised his enthusiasm for working with children after spending a summer at Camp America.
He's since landed his role at Sticky TV and takes pride in being a role model for young people.
The Ponsonby resident says he has big shoes to fill but is staying focused on the youth and is honoured to be in the role.
"Jonah Lomu has always been a legend to me.
"Read his book, watched him play and of course knew about his health and his connection with Kidney Kids," Neilands says.
Keith Mackenzie, chief executive of Kidney Kids, says Lomu was an icon and someone who people looked up to.
"In this time since Jonah's death it has been a challenge to find an ambassador that people can really connect with."
Mackenzie says Lomu was a morale booster for kids living with kidney disease "as they could see he was living with it, and just getting on with life".
Kidney Kids NZ is a charity which was founded in 1990 to support children up to age 21 diagnosed with kidney disease, urinary tract disease and any other kidney disorder.
The charity also offers the families support and education on the early warning signs of kidney disease.
Mackenzie says the team is excited about the presence of a fresh and young ambassador.
"Jonah was amazing, but it's with his legacy that we can move forward with someone new."
While Neilands hasn't had any previous involvement with Kidney Kids, he has worked alongside the Cancer Foundation and is the ambassador for the What's Up Helpline.
"One of the best parts about my job is getting to connect with kids all across New Zealand," he says.
"My purpose will be to light up faces and connect with these awesome young people.
"I have a knack for connecting with youngsters. I feel with this, it'll be special for the young of Kidney Kids to know that I'm backing them specifically."
Visit kidneykids.org.nz for more information.