A young American boy with leukaemia had his wish to go gliding in Omarama come true at the weekend with the help of Make-A-Wish.
Gavin Shamis, 11, made an application with Make-A-Wish to come to New Zealand and go gliding in Omarama.
The wish also gave Gavin and his family some time in Queenstown and Franz Josef Glacier.
Gavin said he had been having a nice holiday in New Zealand and the flying was really fun.
He had been enjoying himself so much, he did not want to go home, he said.
Glide Omarama managing director Gavin Wills took him up during the weekend.
On Friday, they flew for about two-and-a-half hours and went almost 20,000 feet over Mt Cook, he said.
Gavin flew by himself for about quarter of the time and he had a big grin on his face, Mr Wills said.
“It was a real pleasure taking the young fella up for a ride.”
Gavin’s father, Andrew Shamis, said it was wonderful to be able to do this for Gavin, as he had had a really rough time over the past couple of years.
He was far older than his 11 years and gliding gave him the control he had not had in his life, Mr Shamis said.
New Zealand had bent over backwards to give Gavin such an amazing experience, he said.
Gavin was now in remission and his hospital visits had been cut down from many times a week to once every two months, Mr Shamis said.
After missing the better part of three years, Gavin was back to school and beginning to have a normal life, he said.
The family now had to hold their breath for another two-and-a-half years and if everything was fine, he would essentially be cancer-free, Mr Shamis said.
The family had decided to stay an extra week to see a bit more of New Zealand.
Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children age 3-17 with life-threatening medical conditions.
Visit www.makeawish.org.nz or wish.org for more information on the organisation.
By RUBY HARFIELD