With less than a week to go until the GODZone Adventure Challenge kicks off in Queenstown, the team racing in support of the national children's hospital says the physical challenges they'll be facing "are nothing compared to what Starship kids bravely deal with every day".
The GODZone Adventure Race is an expedition-style adventure race taking place in Queenstown this Easter (7-14 April). The race traverses a distance of approximately 450km taking most participants around four to five days to complete. Teams, who must remain together at all times, will be expected to navigate, trek, mountain bike and kayak on a non-stop basis over a vast array of different landscapes testing the mental and physical skills of participants.
The four-person House of Travel Racing for Starship team comprising of ex-Blues and New Zealand Maori player David Gibson, current Black Fern Huriana Manuel, ex-Blues player Ben Meyer and Rugby Players Association CEO, Rob Nichol, are raising funds for the Starship National Air Ambulance Service.
They are almost halfway to their fundraising target with just over $43,000 raised so far. The general public is being encouraged to support the team and Starship by donating at www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/godzone or by texting STAR to 469 to make an automatic $3 donation.
Year-round the Air Ambulance Service rushes medical experts to life-threatening emergencies around the country where they stabilise children and allow them to be brought safely to Starship to receive care. The Starship Foundation raises the $1.5 million needed annually for this vital service, which includes staff training, and aviation costs.
Rob Nichol says of the team's commitment, "We are so impressed with the work of Starship. They provide an amazing service to more than 120,000 children every year and the Starship National Air Ambulance is a big part of that.
"For me personally our ability to work together to help those in need is very much a measure of who we are. No matter how challenging things get, we should all take responsibility for supporting each other. This is at the heart of what Starship delivers - being there for the kids and their families in the most challenging of times."
Children like four-year-old Khempher from Nelson who was airlifted to Starship by the service after a common case of childhood croup turned critical when his airways swelled shut. And little Arielle from Invercargill who was flown to Starship at just four- weeks-old for life saving heart surgery.
Four-year-old Gypsea from the Hawkes Bay also used the invaluable service after suffering complications for a range of complex gastrointestinal abnormalities caused by a congenital disorder. Her mum Victoria says, "It would normally take six hours for us to drive to Starship, but with the Air Ambulance Gypsea can be at Starship in an hour. I don't know where we would be without it."
All Black rugby players Hosea Gear, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Corey Flynn appreciate the huge physical and mental challenge the House of Travel Racing for Starship team is undertaking and they are getting in behind their Association's latest initiative to support Starship.
Blues based player Tony Woodcock says, "I think it's great that we are raising money for the Starship National Air Ambulance Service. As a father I know what it is like to have a young child in hospital. It's important that children and their families from all over New Zealand are able to access the expertise when they need it."
Fellow Blues based player Keven Mealamu, a Starship Ambassador for the team's silver sponsor Barfoot & Thompson, says, "Many of the players are at that stage of life where they have young children or will do in years to come, so this cause fits really well. Personally I have been privileged to work with Starship and see first-hand the amazing things they do for the kids of New Zealand. The doctors and nurses are so skilled and dedicated, and the results they and the families achieve blow me away."
Highlanders based player Hosea Gear says, "It's been a busy few months with super rugby and the family. In addition to relocating to Dunedin we have recently had twins, a boy and a girl. The thought of either of them, or our five year old daughter, becoming seriously ill or injured scares me to be honest, and I feel for those families who have found themselves in that situation. It is comforting to know we have a facility like Starship Hospital accessible to all of New Zealand. Please support our team in this challenge and in doing so the Starship National Air Ambulance service. Every little bit makes a difference."
Crusader based Corey Flynn says "I've played professional rugby for a long time now, you have your bad days, but most of the time you have a week to turn things around. The kids that get admitted to Starship aren't that lucky. A bad day for them might be finding out their kidney is failing or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. We need to make sure that we provide New Zealand's children with the best facilities and expertise to help make the bad days good again. So enjoy a few hard days in the bush guys and hopefully we can raise as much funds as possible for Starship's National Air Ambulance Service off the back of it."
House of Travel is the exclusive gold sponsor of the team with Barfoot & Thompson, Skoda New Zealand and Thrifty Car Rental New Zealand as silver sponsors and Mole Map New Zealand and Naturebee as bronze sponsors.
Friends of Starship Chair Gretchen Hawkesby says, "Rob, Ben, Dave and Huriana are providing the most wonderful support for Starship - the commitment they have made to this fundraising and to our nation's kids, not to mention the sheer physical undertaking of the GODZone adventure race, is truly admirable."
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