25 March 2019
New Zealand Army Captains Laura and Tane North have finished their epic walk to raise money for their son’s medical treatment, and 700 kilometres on they still have a spring in their step.
Elijah, 3-1/2, the third of the Upper Hutt couple’s four children, was born with microcephaly and an undiagnosed genetic condition. The microcephaly means he has a small head because of abnormal brain development, and the genetic condition affects most of his body. He cannot speak, is legally blind, is fed through a tube and has a total of 14 health issues.
He has made huge progress following four three-week treatment sessions at the Neurological and Physical Abilitation Centre in Australia. His parents want to take him back for more treatment and aimed to raise the $56,000 required to give him four more three-week sessions over the next two years by walking from Wellington to Auckland over 11 days.
Three days into their journey they were shocked and saddened by the Christchurch mosque shootings, and Captain Laura North said the victims and their families had been in their minds.
“Our thoughts have been with the Muslim community throughout the walk. The tragedy that those families are experiencing is just horrific,” she said.
Chief of Army Major General John Boswell was at the finish line at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Saturday and said he was incredibly proud of the couple for their determination, and of the Army and the New Zealand Defence Force for its support of them.
“At a time when there’s such tragedy and horror in New Zealand they are everything that is good about who we are as people, as an organisation and as a nation,” he said.
“The challenge they set themselves and the way they stepped up to that challenge and have achieved 700 kilometres in 11 days – it’s a magnificent outcome for them.”
Captain Laura North said the couple had initially planned to do the walk on their own but realised they could not have done it without the support of their Army colleagues.
“A huge thank you first and foremost to the Defence Force and the New Zealand Army, because without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” she said.
“And thank you to everyone who has donated, whether it’s been money in the buckets, through the Givealittle page – givealittle.co.nz #walkforwonderboy – time helping us with the barbecues or through sponsorship. It’s been incredible and we thank you all so much.
“We’ve made it.”