The 9-year-old covering 200km for Camp Quality
Waikato / Bay of Plenty
He’s spent more than a year in hospital and has a necklace full of beads representing his treatments. Now Hamish McLaughlin is going to cover 200km for a cancer fundraiser.
He’ll need to average 6.6km a day to reach his goal, but it’s for a charity that hits home.
Hamish was two when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. It’s a rare cancer and, at the time, he was the only one in the world with it. For 13 months, he stayed in hospital.
But after two bone marrow transplants from dad Patrick he’s been in remission six years.
Now 9, the Pukete School pupil plans to bike or scoot 200km in September for the Big Challenge, which happens in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The proceeds will go towards funding Camp Quality, which caters to 5 to 16-year-olds who have been diagnosed with cancer.
On average a child is diagnosed with cancer every three days in New Zealand.
Hamish has been on six camps, and recently completed his third winter camp, which was in Taupō.
“We went to the snow, went swimming, camp activities doing high ropes and archery, and jet boating at Velocity Valley on the jet boat,” Hamish said.
The camps help kids build their resilience for upcoming treatments, realise their own strength, recharge their emotional and physical batteries, create friendships, and most importantly allow them to get back to being kids.
It costs approximately $2700 for a child to attend winter and summer camps for the year.
Hamish’s mum Haley McLaughlin said cancer isn’t mentioned on camps unless the kids bring it up.
“We quite often find when he comes home there’s lots more questions about other kids. He was only two when he was diagnosed with AML, so only remembers bits and pieces.”
McLaughlin said it’s also good to see the campers become camp companions. “That’s really cool for him to see that cancer isn’t the end all the time. Because we have lost a lot of friends through it... We lost a good friend after summer camp.”
McLaughlin said Hamish is excited about being able to raise money for a charity he loves so much, and is connected to him.
“He’s decided he wants to do it by himself. We offered to do it as a team... Camp Quality has virtually become his thing and we let him do his Camp Quality thing.”
He’s aiming to raise $400 for the 200km which, on average, is about 6.6km a day.
Every year 300 children participate in Camp Quality, where they’re paired up with a companion for the duration of the camp.
Fundraising is a hard space for not-for-profits to be in at the moment, general manager of Camp Quality Dave Bellamy said.
“There’s lots of charities with really worthy causes all asking for what seems to be an ever decreasing amount of people’s disposable income. And we don’t have the name recognition others do.”
Bellamy said they receive no government funding and are completely reliant on donors, supporters, and friends.
Camp Quality is the only provider of camps for kids living with cancer in Aotearoa.
September 5, 2023