Former Hurricane's hard yards for niece

RUTH KEBER
Last updated 14:53 20/09/2012

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Ace Tiatia jumped, crawled and stumbled along Manners Mall this morning.
 
The former Hurricanes and Crusaders rugby player completed a combined kilometre of burpees and bear walking through downtown Wellington to raise money for his sick niece to go on a trip of a lifetime.

Te Ara Puketapu Kingi has suffered from acute myeloid leukaemia since the age of 3.

Acute myeloid leukaemia is a cancer which starts inside the bone marrow of the body, growing from the cells that would normally turn into white blood cells. 

The now 9-year-old Napier girl has just gone into remission for the second time and is currently at Starship Hospital in Auckland.

She was selected to travel to Disneyland in America by Koru Care, and Tiatia is raising funds to help her and other sick children get there.

Kuro Care is a voluntary organisation that helps dreams come true for seriously ill and disabled children. 

With a group of family and friends Tiatia started his trek on the corner of Manners Mall and Victoria St at 11.30 this morning.

"If it takes me three hours, it takes me three hours," he said before starting.

At about the halfway mark Tiatia was feeling the pain from the impromptu physical activity, complaining of burning lungs and cramping calf muscles, but he persevered onwards for his niece.

"It can't be that bad, it can't be that bad," he repeated to himself.

"It can't be any worse than what Te Ara has been through."

Tiatia's son Manaaki Tiatia  joined in at the halfway mark and beat his father to the finish.

Manaaki returned to redo the final 200-metre stretch with his father, who finished the kilometre at 12.20pm.

Afterwards, an exhausted Tiatia was quick to thank those who had supported him, and reminded them why they were there.

"We pray that [Te Ara] is in good spirits and being looked after today."

Tiatia will be at Public Bar on Courtenay Place from 6.30pm tonight to auction off rugby memorabilia to help raise more funds.

A signed 2012 All Black jersey, a Tana Umaga signed Hurricanes jersey and a Rugby World Cup poster signed by the All Blacks will be included in the auction.

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- The Dominion Post

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