Backyard skate park makes Sean's day - and night

Make-A-Wish Foundation comes to Waitoa

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2014
Sean Tilsley
Mark Taylor/Fairfax NZ
RAMPED UP: Sean Tilsley, with Nek Minnit man Levi Hawken, now has a half-pipe in his Waitoa home thanks to Make-A-Wish New Zealand. 

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Waitoa became skater central and cupcake heaven after a half-pipe was dropped into the town to make the dreams of a bunch of kids come true.

Sean Tilsley, 12, first called Make-A-Wish New Zealand two years ago in the hope of building a skate park in his eastern Waikato town.

That was too lofty a goal for the charitable group so they compromised and delivered a half-pipe to the boy's home.

Sean and his family were joined by local children, Nek Minnit man Levi Hawken, staff from skate shop Cheapskates, and Make-A-Wish staff and volunteers for the official opening of his backyard skate park.

A crane dropped the 9 metre, stainless-steel half-pipe into Sean's yard last week and his mother Marilyn Tilsley said it kept him smiling well into the night.

"As soon as it was down, they didn't wait, they were meant to wait but they were on it."

"I couldn't get him in, it was 10 o'clock at night and I couldn't get him inside to go to bed to go to school the next day."

Sean has a rare auto-immune disease called Polyendocrine Type 4, with Addison's disease and coeliac's disease.

If he has gastric trouble or a high fever, it can lead to an Addisonian Crisis resulting in coma or death.

"He's complicated," said Tilsley.

Make-A-Wish scrambled for funds to build the half-pipe, which was valued at more than $2000, and Tilsley said it was such a rush to get everything organised for the opening, there wasn't time for the gift to sink in.

"It's been madness, we've been rushing around and I suppose we haven't sort of taken it in yet."

Unselfishly, Sean let his younger brother Brody Tilsley, 11, test the integrity of the ramp first but sister Katilyn, 7, preferred the balloon and cupcake-filled party.

Brody was diagnosed with auto-immune disease and Katilyn with diabetes and their mum said the gift gave them all reason to celebrate.

Guests arrived from as far away as Wellington and Sean and Brody got to work cleaning the ramp after a few days of rain and handling.

"They washed the ramp with my towels," said Tilsley.

"They left the towels there but the ramp is sparkling."

Tilsley said her son Sean has had a rough time but was an active boy who wanted to grow up playing sport and doing stuff with his friends.

"You've got to let him do what he wants. If he wants to play rugby, if he wants to play basketball, if he wants to skate, he is going to get hurt and you are going to have to take more precautions than you do with the average child but you've got to give it to him."

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It didn't make it any easier for Marilyn and her husband Jamie Tilsley but they want their son to have a life just like everyone else.

He's got to do all of the things a normal kid does even though you might have your heart in your mouth."

- Waikato Times

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