A Feilding man who never let his debilitating illness interrupt his love of the outdoors has died on his 21st birthday.
Bobby Adlam died on Monday night as a result of Duchennes muscular dystropy, a medical condition that involves a gradual disintegration of the muscles.
His father, Pete Smith, said the disease made his son's muscles slowly waste away.
Mr Adlam was not able to walk or hold up heavy objects, but this did not stop him from embarking on one of his great passions – the outdoors.
Mr Adlam first featured in the Manawatu Standard in 2007 during the opening of the Alice Nash Memorial Heritage Lodge in the Ruahine Forest Park. Getting to the lodge was a 45-minute trek, so his family put him in a wheelbarrow and wheeled him there.
Mr Smith said the whole family were into fishing, tramping and shooting, and they wanted Mr Adlam to be part of that.
"We are outdoors people and this is the kind of thing we do. We tried to give him a normal life."
When fishing, people rigged, baited and cast lines for Mr Adlam, while he watched his rod to see if a fish would get hooked.
To shoot, one person would hold two sticks to prop up the front of a gun while another would hold and aim it where Mr Adlam said.
These methods worked, with Mr Adlam taking out Feilding Surfcasting Club's young angler award when he was 18, and winning awards at the New Zealand Cowboy Association shooting nationals in 2009.
"He experienced the thrill of fishing and the thrill of shooting," Mr Smith said.
When Mr Adlam's health started to deteriorate in June last year, a doctor asked what was top of his Bucket List.
The answer – shooting a deer.
His wish came true on Waitangi Day this year when Mr Adlam was carried into a supervised area by his father and shot his deer from a distance of 185 metres.
Mr Smith said he hoped people would remember Mr Adlam as someone who was always positive and active despite his illness.
"He has done more than other able-bodied kids have done.
"People in the same situation ... can do things and you can have a good quality of life, not just sitting at home and going to the museum.
"You can have an active life, even if your body is gone. It's just in your mind; it's about what you want to think in your head."
Mr Smith said he and some friends were keen to help others with physical disabilities experience the outdoors.
His son never complained about his condition, just some of the uncomfortable moments. "He would complain that he had a sore bum, because his spine moved as part of his condition."
When he died, he was in no pain and had a smile on face, Mr Smith said. "He's gone to a better place now. Now he can walk."
Mr Adlam refused to talk about having a funeral, so his family and friends were going to celebrate his 21st – and his life – at the Feilding Civic Centre this weekend.
Mr Smith said his son had one request – to be cremated and have his ashes put into a shotgun shell.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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