Young girl to greet the Duchess of Cambridge
Matamata 6-year-old Kaiya Miller will wear bright pink shoes and a cheeky smile when she meets the Duchess of Cambridge.
Kaiya suffers from cystic fibrosis (CF) and has been chosen to present the duchess with a bunch of flowers during her visit to children's hospice Rainbow Place next Saturday.
The visit coincides with the annual Gallagher Children's Party and, following a tour of the facility, the duchess will spend time with the children and their families.
"Kaiya has been busy practising her smile," said mum Glenny Bowes. "It's all a bit exciting."
It is a welcome distraction for the Matamata Primary student, who has spent about one-third of her life at Waikato Hospital.
"I'm most excited about meeting her," said Kaiya. "I think she'll be nice and fun."
The party has an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter theme so older brother Lachie has been roped into having practice tea parties with Kaiya.
"Mum let us put [Lorde's] Royals on and we drank the tea. It was actually just water, though."
Kaiya was born eight weeks early with a perforated bowel and was diagnosed with CF at just a few weeks old.
CF affects a number of organs in the body - particularly the lungs and pancreas - by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus. It has caused Kaiya to develop diabetes and also affected her ability to digest food, so she is fed almost exclusively through a tube in her tummy.
"To look at her face you would just never know that every cell in her body doesn't work properly," said Bowes. "She has a really intense day just to be a part of life and it's really difficult for her, but she's an amazing kid and she tries her best at everything."
Kaiya's daily routine includes taking up to 20 different medications, physiotherapy, breathing treatments and feedings.
Rainbow Place provides specialist care for children such as Kaiya and had been a fantastic support for the family, said Bowes.
"We are really, really lucky in respect of the team from Waikato Hospital and Rainbow Place.
"Just the care they put into us. They treat us like family."
CF had taken away so much from Kaiya but through the hard times had also presented her with some incredible opportunities, said Bowes.
Already Kaiya has featured on children's show Sticky TV as Kiwi Kid of the Year and was a face of the Countdown Kids Hospital Appeal.
"It's really hard and day-to-day can be pretty difficult and we go through things most families don't ever have to think about but you can make the most of it you want to. And we try to," said Bowes.
"It gives you a boost. All the crazy, tough times in our lives are offset by some really fabulous experiences."
Kaiya didn't quite understand the significance of meeting the duchess but it would be a valuable memory for her to look back on, she said.
Every year Hospice Waikato has a shortfall and must look to the community to fill it. This year $2 million is needed to keep providing free care for people who are dying or families coping with the loss of a loved one.
On April 21 the hospice launches its first public appeal in six years to help make up the amount.
Services offered by the independent charitable trust include counselling, art therapy, in-home hospice care and emotional support.
To donate, visit hospicewaikato.org.nz or via Westpac bank account 03 1555 0091553 00