Friends at work.

By Graeme Trask
February 18   2010
From Left, Hira Fulford, Matt Downes and Sam Rye

Sam Rye, Hira Fulford and Matthew Downes have two things in common — they all work together for a company in Paraparaumu, and they have been busy in their own time raising funds for a workmate whose son recently contracted leukaemia.

It was January 15 when their fellow worker Raka Williams and his wife got the call from their 5-year- old son’s doctor.

They had suspected their son might have meningitis, but were told it was something much more serious — leukaemia.

Mr Williams had to drop tools to meet doctors before organising transport for his family to Christchurch, where his son, Raka Junior was being treated.

Raka Junior at Christchurch Hospital

Well, Raka Junior is still in Christchurch Hospital; and he could be there for up to 3 years if the treatment is successful.

Back in Kapiti, three of Mr Williams work colleagues heard about their friend’s predicament and they took immediate action to raise funds for their friend and his family.

One of the trio, Matt Downes, says “This is a new experience for me, I have helped raise funds for a local BMX club, but nothing on the scale we are trying to do right now.”

Their company, Downer EDI, came to their aid and has helped when needed.

A bank account has been opened where anyone can donate to Raka Junior’s appeal.

Donations can be credited to the following bank account number, 01 0731 0211231 00 ANZ or if donating from Australia then you will need to also include the following code, ANZBNZ22

And on Saturday, February 13, 120 tickets were sold for a barbeque, raffles and entertainment evening. at the Jolly Miller Inn in Paraparaumu.

Sam Rye says: “It looks like we have made about two thousand dollars for the evening.”

And he says, “This will lift the total to around seven thousand dollars. We will be organising other events in the future.”

Hira Fulford says support for the appeal has been overwhelming, with other work colleagues donating part of their pay each week.

And, he says, “The company (Downer EDI) has been generous in its financial support.”

I recently asked Raka Williams how his son is coping with his treatment.

Mr Williams said: “Our son has had a very hard time coping with the Chemo treatment as well as a huge concoction of drugs. For an adult to cope with all this is bad enough, but for a 5-year-old, it’s just huge.”

And he said: “We were quite concerned at times in the first part of his treatment when his temperature sky-rocketed, he was in tremendous pain, and he was unable to talk because of the drugs.”

But a month later, after treatment was stopped temporarily, Raka Junior was able to communicate with his parents — and for the first time Doctors encouraged the parents to take him for some fresh air in his wheelchair.

Mr Williams knows his work colleagues have been hard at work raising funds for the appeal and says: “The family is very much appreciative of the help that has come from everyone.”

He adds: “This is an exhausting time for us, having to be at our son’s bedside 24/7 to give him any support we can. We are very thankful for the support from everyone.

The Williams other two, older, children must still attend school; and this has been hard to organise, with the family split up at times. But a close relationship with their immediate family has made this easier.

For Raka Jnr, his immediate future is unclear. But it is going to involve a long stay at Christchurch Hospital with intensive treatment which will put huge stress on his body.

But one thing is certain: The support from his family, friends and the community will continue.

And it is great to see how people and the community come together when real difficulties strike.


Pictures taken at the Jolly Millar Inn, Paraparaumu Beach.

Click on each image to enlarge

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.