Ex-military man willingly gets ripped off

JONATHON HOWE
Last updated 12:00 09/04/2011

Darren Smith goes through a painful waxing for charity. Video by Robert Kitchin.

St John training instructor Darren Smith has his chest waxed.
LEILANI HATCH/Manawatu Standard
GRIN AND BARE IT: St John training instructor Darren Smith has his chest waxed.

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Former combat medic Darren Smith is used to scenes of pain and suffering, having served with the British Army in war-torn Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

But the Palmerston North St John trainer never experienced extreme pain himself – until this week.

Mr Smith pledged to have his chest and stomach waxed if he raised at least $500 for Shave For A Cure, which gathers donations for the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation.

With his fundraising tally sitting at $674, he stayed true to his word by having his body hair stripped at the Skin Therapy Day Spa on Linton St on Thursday.

Mr Smith was understandably nervous before his first wax.

"It's the first time I won't have had any hair since I was 13 years old. I'm also wishing I was 18 again when I had a six-pack instead of a keg."

After Mr Smith took his shirt off and got on the bed, beauty therapy students Daphne Wagland and Katie Shanahan smeared hot wax on his hairy chest.

"They never told me I needed to shave first," he said, taking in deep breaths. "Tell me you've done this before."

He let out a loud cry and stifled a swear word as the first strip of hair was torn from his chest.

"Flippin heck!"

Gleefully watching was colleague and friend June Whittaker, grandmother of Samuel Whittaker – the two-year-old boy to whom Mr Smith dedicated the waxing.

Samuel suffers from a rare immune disease called haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), and has been in Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital since March, after suffering a relapse.

"I just thought this was really good of him," Mrs Whittaker said. "It's been really stressful on [Samuel's] parents but they've pulled together and pulled through it."

During the waxing, Mrs Whittaker put Samuel's mother, Rebecca Fothergill, on a loudspeaker phone, so she could hear Mr Smith's cries of pain. Ms Fothergill told the Manawatu Standard she was "blown away" by Mr Smith's actions.

"It's such an awesome thing for him to do, not only for the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation but also for Sammie. I was quite emotional when he got June to ask us."

Samuel faces a long stay in Auckland after an allergic reaction to chemotherapy.

"So he's looking like he's going into [bone marrow] transplant in the middle to end of May."

Tests done on Samuel's three-month-old sister Leiah showed she shares the same genetic abnormality and could develop HLH.

"She's not symptomatic at the moment. They are thinking about putting her through a transplant as a healthy child."

Despite the worthy cause, Mr Smith was having second thoughts when he saw the blood specks on his body.

"I'm thinking that I'm almost regretting this and I'm also not enjoying myself."

After the 30-minute ordeal, a reddened but relieved Mr Smith was smothered with a soothing lotion.

The most painful waxing region was the lower belly, he said.

"But at the end of the day, it's for Sammie ... so it was a small price to pay."

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Anyone wanting to donate to Mr Smith's effort can search his name on the Shave For a Cure website.

  To watch a video of the waxing go to manawatustandard.co.nz

- Manawatu Standard

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