Eight-year-old cancer battler Liam Todd is bouncing his way to recovery with high hopes of returning to his beloved rugby field this season.
The Waikanae boy was diagnosed with a rare aggressive malignant tumour in his sinus cavity last year. It was removed and his face was rebuilt using bone and tissue from his leg.
After his surgery last year and losing sight in one eye, he is now in remission. This week he came home from school to find a new trampoline with special safety features waiting for him on his back lawn, thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
While recovering at home last year, Liam bounced on his old trampoline, fell on the padded rim and because he had had his jaw and teeth removed, ended up with "blood everywhere", his mother, Rebecca, said.
The incident prompted the family to ask the Make-a-Wish Foundation for a trampoline that was safe for him. The $2400 Supertramp, featuring safety netting, padded rims and two mats to soften his bounce, is expected to help with his rehabilitation, restore his strength and get him back into rugby.
"He is really excited the surgeon has given him the go-ahead to play tackle rugby this year. He is an awesome kid he cannot see what all the fuss is about," Mrs Todd said.
Spotting the tramp as he walked in his front gate, he beamed and said it was the biggest one he had ever seen. After an enthusiastic bounce and a huge grin at seeing a Hurricanes jersey signed by the team hanging inside the tramp, he said, "I have never been able to bounce so high."
Three years ago his father, Matt, died from brain cancer at the age of 34. The family were just coming to terms with his death when they received the shattering news about Liam, which prompted the local community to stage a fundraising rugby match.
Mr Todd was also a keen rugby player from a young age and Liam plans to wear his father's rugby headgear when he runs back on to the field this season.
"It means he will be taking his dad with him when he sprints on to the field," Mrs Todd said.
The wish is funded by donations from Air New Zealand's onboard collections.
Last week they raised more than $20,000 to provide four wishes, including Liam's.
- The Dominion Post