Eye on the Electorate
I did something I have never done before put myself up for auction.
I launched the auction on the Trade Me website.
And while the highest bidder will of win an up-close and personal dinner with me for two hours, the proceeds will go toward something much more important.
My decision to do this was spurred by the struggle of one family, who have ties to the Whanganui-Manawatu area, to raise enough money for their three teenage sons to continue playing high-performance sports.
It was clear to me that if no one was prepared to put their money where their mouth is to help this whanau, then the awesome potential of these young men would never be realised.
And that, as far as I am concerned, is not an option.
I can appreciate the struggle to meet the financial costs to parents for their children to play top sports is a universal one. But the story of these youths, is really quite amazing extraordinary to say the least.
The trio of brothers are dedicated and outstanding sportsmen.
They have played basketball, rugby and rugby league at provincial and national levels every year since they were about 10 to 12-years-old.
Currently, the three boys are playing for an elite college basketball squad in Wellington. Two are emerging Tall Blacks while the other is an aspiring All Black.
Most of the boys' sporting expenses have been met through their father getting loans on his house to help pay the $20,000 or so that it costs.
Unfortunately, with the current economic recession and other factors, the father can no longer continue to do this.
The eldest brother of the three boys has contributed handsomely to their costs over the years, but he too is finding it difficult now he has children of his own.
Hence, the family have really only one option to withdraw the boys from playing sports at regional and national levels.
That is not an option.
I've always advocated that we must do everything we can, whatever the cost, to ensure the full potential of our young people are realised.
Furthermore, I don't ever want these boys to ask themselves "what if"?
Every sports trip overseas can cost up to $3500 per child while each trip can cost up to $400.
Then there's the high-performance camps, which two of the brothers attend, that cost about $500 each.
As well as direct costs, the indirect costs can get quite high as well.
For example, basketball boots which usually cost between $250-$380 a pair, extra socks, underwear, petrol and car maintenance (to and from trainings, games and camps), special food (and lots of it), specialist appointments, medications, ankle and knee straps.
I take my hat off to the parents of these boys parents who have chosen to live simple and frugal lifestyles for the sake of their children.
I will not be making the names of these boys public because the whanau of these young men are really whakama or overwhelmed about me doing this for them.
If raising enough money for these promising young men means I have to step outside my comfort zone by having dinner and talking with a total stranger or strangers for two hours, then that would be one of the most worthwhile meetings I would have ever taken part in.
By the way the auction closes today so please feel free to check it out.
- Manawatu Standard